Malware attacks!

Posted on: 31 October 2016
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Following on from last month’s post about regular scams and my recent blog about spam; if you follow the news you will have seen that in the intervening few months there have been further reports about cyber security issues. These have involved some big names and big numbers, for example:

  • Yahoo – 500 million accounts compromised!
  • Talk Talk –they were fined £400,000 by the Information Commissioner for breaches of the Data Protection Act relating to the hundreds of thousands of accounts that were compromised.

The key advice from all the companies in these situations is to change your log in password and monitor your accounts for at least a couple of months, for any unusual activity.

You may say, ‘So what? I don’t use any of those services, so why should I worry?’ Well, Yahoo provide email services for both Sky and BT, so you may find you are indirectly affected. Plus, according to the Symantec Security Insights Report, 1 in 113 emails contains malware and an increase in activity saw over one million new malware variants being created each day in August and September. So it’s only a matter of time before one crosses your path – if it hasn’t already. In addition, these attacks are not restricted to large online service providers and attacks can come from places a lot closer to home.

Cybersecurity firm SentinelOne contacted 71 UK universities asking if they had been attacked by Ransomware (see here for an explanation of Ransomware). Of the 58 which replied, 23 said they had been attacked in the last year. In particular, Bournemouth University, which boasts a cybersecurity centre, has been hit 21 times in the last 12 months.

The attacks are not limited to any particular area of business either, as 28 NHS Trusts said they had also been affected.

What this does show is that no one who operates online, in any way, is truly safe. But by being vigilant and thinking before acting, it is possible to greatly reduce the risk of being a victim of cyber-crime.


In addition to the guidance on the University’s IT Security pages on spotting malware attacks, it can be hard to know if an email, or other communication, is genuine or trying to extract more information from you. But in principle, if you are asked to click on a link in an email, then ‘re enter’ your details into a site, or are told that you have to act quickly to prevent something happening, then it’s probably a scam. Genuine organisations will not ask you to ‘re enter’ your information, or share your password or PIN with anyone from their organisation. Going to the security pages of their website will often confirm this. Also checking the return / sending email address an email was sent from can provide clues for you. Many scammers will produce emails or messages that may look like they have come from a genuine company, but on closer inspection appear to come from Yahoo or other webmail services. Plus email links in messages may not take you to the URL that is often shown in the text. So obviously they will be highly suspicious.

Graeme Wolfe

Information Security Officer


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