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Why is cyber security important?

Tuesday, October 5th, 2021

Cyber security is the skill and ability of protecting networks, devices, and data from unlawful access or criminal use and the practice of guaranteeing confidentiality, integrity, and availability of information.

Communication, transportation, shopping, and medicine are just some of the things that rely on computers systems and the Internet now. Much of your personal information is stored either on your computer, smartphone, tablet or possibly on someone else’s system. Knowing how to protect the information that you have stored is of high importance not just for an individual but for an organisation and those in it.

Did you know that:

  • As of 2021, there is a ransomware attack every 11 seconds, up from 39 seconds in 20191,2
  • 43% of cyber-attacks target of small businesses, and they have grown 400 percent since the outbreak began

More tips and resources can be found here

The US government’s Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency has made a collection of tip sheets available for use. These downloadable PDF documents contain all the information you need to protect yourself from cyber security risks in a convenient, compact format. 

More tips and resources can be found here

[SOURCE:  Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, United States Government

Cybersecurity Awareness Month: Creating strong passwords

Tuesday, October 5th, 2021

Before we pointed out that most people underestimate the importance of having a secure password, and still make the mistake of using simple words and numbers as a password.

Keep in mind that your email and social network accounts contain very personal information about you. You must have a strong password to keep your personal life personal, and not become a victim of identity theft. 

  • Using email or your profile on Facebook, Whatsapp or Google, hackers can and do, extract a huge amount of personal data of your personal “online” life.
  • If you use the same password for multiple online accounts, you run the risk, if this password is hacked, of all your online accounts being compromised.
  • Using a personal name for an online account, the name of the city that you live in, the names of your children or your date of birth, give hackers vital clues for attempting to access your personal data.
  • For an average expert hacker, it is always easy to find passwords that are made up of words from the English vocabulary or other languages, using a basic technique called “brute force” or “dictionary” attacks.

What makes a password safe?

  1. A password at least 8 characters long.
  2. The password does not contain information that is easy to find online, such as the date of birth, the telephone number, your spouse’s name, the name of a pet, or a child’s name.
  3. The password does not contain words found in the dictionary.
  4. The password contains special characters like @ # $% ^ &, and numbers.
  5. The password uses a combination of uppercase and lowercase letters.

A trick that the experts use to create secure passwords:

Think of a phrase and use the first letters of the words in the phrase.

  • For example: “In South Africa, a barbecue is called a Braai!”
  • Take the first letters of each word and the password that is created is ISAabicaB!
  • This will be very difficult to guess, but easy to remember.
  • At this point, you can decide to make your the Google password is ISAabicaB!-G,  and Facebook ISAabicaB!-F and your university account  ISAabicaB!-US and so on.
  • There is already a capital letter and a special character (!), so you just need to add a number to finish off a good password like 9-ISAabicaB!-US (9 could be the month you created the password in – for example)

You will have already made your password a lot more difficult to hack, and it can be a lot of fun to create. 

How to recognise a phishing e-mail

Tuesday, October 5th, 2021

We can’t warn you against every phishing e-mail– there’s a new variation every day. You are the only person who can protect yourself from phishing scams and identity theft. The only way to do this is to learn to recognise a harmful e-mail by paying attention and keeping an eye out for a few tell-tale signs.

phishme_how_to_spot_a_phishTypical characteristics

1. Well-known companies used as bait
These e-mails are sent out to thousands of different e-mail addresses and often the person sending them has no idea who you are. If you have no affiliation with the company the e-mail address is supposedly coming from, it’s fake. For example, if the e-mail is sent by ABSA, but you are a Standard Bank client. Also, see a list of types of companies generally used in phishing e-mails below.

2. Spelling and grammar
Improper spelling and grammar is a dead giveaway. Look for obvious errors. 

3. Lack of client information
Phishers use a generic greeting. For example, the e-mail greets you as “ABSA customer” or “Dear user”, etc. If the company was sending you information regarding your faulty account, they would mention your account details or name in the e-mail.  A company would go through the trouble to address a client by name and won’t ask you for your information. Banks have your information on their system.

4. Deadlines/Sense of urgency
Phishing e-mails demand an immediate response or stipulate a specific deadline, creating a sense of urgency and prompting you to respond before you’ve looked at the e-mail properly. For example,  demanding that you log in and change your account information within 24 hours or your account will be closed.

5. Malicious links
Although many phishing e-mails are getting better at hiding the true URL you are visiting, often these e-mails will show a URL that is unrelated to the company. Move your mouse over the link and look at the display address. Is this the website address of the company who seems to be sending the e-mail? If not, it’s clearly a phishing e-mail.

6. Attachments
Phishing e-mails occasionally include an attachment which contains malware. When opened, it will run and install a small programme on your PC, which hackers use to gain access to your PC and information. 

Typical phishing topics

• Account issues, such as accounts or passwords expiring, accounts being hacked, out-of-date accounts, or account information has to be changed.
• Credit cards expiring or being stolen, a duplicate credit card, credit card transactions, etc. 
• Confirming orders, requesting that you log in to confirm recent orders or transactions before a delivery can be made.
• Winning a prize or getting something for free. Both Woolworths and Pick ‘n Pay’s have been used in fake campaigns to lure people into providing personal details.

Company names phishers generally use

• Any major bank. ABSA and Standard Bank are both popular choices in South Africa.
• Insurance companies, for example, Outsurance.
• Internet service providers
Apple or Microsoft claiming your account has been suspended.
• E-mail providers, e.g. Gmail or Yahoo
• SARS. Especially at this time of year. (We’ve had a few of these.)
DHL or any delivery company claiming they have a package for you.
• Your company’s medical aid, for example, Discovery
• Your company’s IT department
• Casinos and lotteries
• Online dating websites
• Popular websites such as Amazon, Facebook, MySpace, PayPal, eBay, Microsoft, Apple, Hotmail, YouTube, etc.

A few tips to keep you safe

Never follow links in an e-mail you’re uncertain of. Rather visit the page by typing the address of the company in your browser. For example,  instead of clicking on the “ABSA URL” in the e-mail, type http://www.absa.co.za in your web browser and log in at their official website.
Never send personal information by e-mail. If a company is asking for your personal account information or claiming your account is invalid, visit the website and log in to the account as you normally would. If everything seems in order and there aren’t any urgent notifications from your bank, you should be fine.
• If you are still not sure about the status of your account or are concerned about your personal information, contact the company directly, either through an e-mail address provided on their website, over the phone or visit your local branch.
• Delete the e-mail and don’t click on links or fill in any information.
• If you’ve already divulged your information, immediately change your password or PIN and contact the institution to inform them of the breach.
• To report spam or phishing e-mails send an e-mail to sysadm@sun.ac.za with the subject SPAM with the suspect e-mail attached. IT system administrators will then be able to block the e-mail to protect other users.

[SOURCE: www.computerhope.com]

 

How do I report phishing?

Tuesday, October 5th, 2021

You’ve received a suspicious email, what should you do with it? Firstly, don’t click on any links. But just as important, send it to us so we can prevent more staff and students falling prey to the scam. We encourage our customers to submit potential phishing examples for review. Using these submissions, the Cyber Security Incident Response Team (CSIRT) can learn from the analysis of these messages. This collectively helps to improve the level of virus and spam detection.

What is phishing?

Phishing attacks are designed to steal a person’s login and password details so that the cyber criminal can assume control of the victim’s social network, email, and online bank accounts. Seventy percent of internet users choose the same password for almost every web service they use. This is why phishing is so effective, as the criminal, by using the same login details, can access multiple private accounts and manipulate them for their own good. 

More on how to recognise a phishing email. 

Report phishing

On the ICT Partner Portal:

*Spam or phishing examples must be sent in either.EML or .MSG format as an attachment and must not be forwarded. This ensures the original email can be analysed with its full Internet message headers intact. Alternatively, use the mail application to save the email (usually located under File | Save As) as an .EML or .MSG format to a folder location, and attach the saved file to a new email.

To meet or not to meet …

Monday, October 4th, 2021

Due to the current working-from-home situation we are likely to spend more time either in a teams meeting or on a Zoom call. Those working from home might have experienced a sharp increase in the number of virtual meeting invites since lock down started last year.

 We are either bouncing from one meeting to the other or struggling to schedule meetings, trying to establish who’s available and who’s not. This might be a short-term overreaction to the lack of other communication channels and social contact, but it could get in the way of productivity and efficiency.

Productive meetings are ones where you need to share expertise and the topics discussed require synchronous collaboration – where people need to be live at the same time, if not the same place. It is also helpful if you are dealing with conflict or need to build closer relationships.

On the other hand, if there’s no clear outcome, the topics are irrelevant, the outcome could be delivered without a meeting or you have no active role except to listen, then you may want to decline the meeting invitation. Typically, if we look at meeting content 40% of meetings are not necessary at all.

If you accept meeting invitations by default, particularly those without an agenda, you are saying that what the other person wants to talk about is a better use of your time than your own work.

Declining meetings can be a challenge to existing meeting agendas and fixed ways of working, but discuss the necessity of a meeting with your meeting leader. This could open up a discussion in your team about which topics you need to discuss and which are not important. Below is an infographic decision tree which might help you or your colleagues reconsider scheduling a meeting.

Take this opportunity to improve your meetings, save yourself time and improve on working towards a productive environment.

SOURCE: https://www.wrike.com/blog/meeting-infographic-decision-tree/

[ARTICLE BY MANDY WANZA]

 

 

 

 

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