Fight the latest war: Cyber security


Ryan Chan, Senior staff member

We live in a world connected and bound by technology, and we have embraced the digital era with open arms, pushing its boundaries. But for all that technology brings us, have we bound ourselves too tightly to our devices and gadgets? A new wave of increasing cyber attacks may indicate so.

Everyday, we run the risk of being the target of identity theft, fraud and all sorts of nasty online malware. Of course, cyber threats and malicious hacking are not new. However, there are gaping chinks in the armor of digital protection. These days, hackers and cybercriminals are devising bold and unexpected new ways of targeting devices and personal information.

Ransomware is one new way hackers are targeting unwary victims. The process involves hackers locking users out of their devices, often smartphones and handheld devices, and demanding a ransom in bitcoin currency to recover files or access devices. Ransomware is usually found in places such as Android apps not downloaded from Google Play, and is notoriously hard to get rid of once infected.

Electronic pickpocketing is another particularly alarming technique used by thieves. If your credit card has an radio frequency identification microchip (RFID), it can be scanned by thieves using a more powerful version of scanners found at stores and restaurants. These scanners can read your credit card number and expiration date without ever touching the card, making it hard for victims to know if they were even targeted.

So what can people do to combat this new wave of cyber crime? I recommend victims of ransomware never pay the demands of hackers and report incidents to authorities immediately. If your credit card has a microchip (usually denoted by a radio wave symbol next to it), there are RFID card shields that only cost a few dollars to protect your credit cards.

It falls upon each person to remain vigilant against these attacks. Keeping encrypted backups of sensitive information and purchasing card sleeve shields are generally a good idea to stop these specific kinds of threats. And of course, never give out personal information to suspicious persons or websites.

At the moment, hackers have the upper hand over authorities as they constantly invent new ways to steal information, siphon money and extort others. If we are to combat the never-ending threat of cyber theft, authorities will have to invest more time, money and manpower to keep up with criminals. But more importantly, the public needs to keep on its toes and actively protect themselves from electronic attacks to discourage cyber criminal behavior.