In order to stay safe online, you need to use a little bit of common sense. The past couple of months has seen several major cyber-attacks on major social media sites and applications. Last month, for example, Skype was the victim of a massive cyber-attack, followed up with another malicious attack aimed at users of Skype.
The attack directed at Skype users was released as an illegal way to generate Bitcoins. If you haven’t heard of Bitcoins, they are a digital currency that first emerged in 2009. Even weeks after the attack, users were continuing to click on up to 10 thousand links per hour. These links were associated with the Bitcoin generating attack. After clicking the link, the victim’s computer would be infected with a malicious computer code that attempts to illegally generate Bitcoins by using the computer’s resources.
It was only a matter of time before online criminals took notice of Bitcoins. This digital currency can be traded anonymously online and once traded for currency it could be used to pay for other goods online. Online criminals took advantage of this with the coordinated attack on Skype. Generating the currency in order purchase drugs, weapons, and computer viruses.
Back in April 5th of this year, the digital currency reached a peak value of $132 per Bitcoin, which was right around the time of the attack. Security experts make the point that this was most likely not a coincidence.
Bitcoins are initially collected by mining the computer network that generates them. In order to do this, a massive amount of computing power is required. Legitimate companies have spent thousands of dollars on intricate networks of computers that share their processing power to mine for Bitcoins. The cyber-attack was attempting to use a victim’s computer in much the same way, using the resources of the victim’s computer in order to mine for Bitcoins. The majority of Skype users that were affected live in parts of Russia, China, Taiwan, and Italy. Part of the reason this attack was so successful, is that users are not often paying attention to their actions while online.
There are some simple common sense practices that users should follow. The first thing that users should do is make sure that they have some type of security software installed on their computer. Security software will alert the user if it finds any malicious software on the computer. Another area where users tend to make a major mistake is when choosing a password for their Skype account. You should avoid using the names of pets, family, or the street on which you live. The best types of passwords are generated randomly and contain both numbers and letters. Additionally, it is a good idea to change your password every couple of months.
For people that don’t like the idea of having to remember a bunch of random numbers and letters. There is plenty of software available that will generate passwords for you and then store them for easy access.