How to protect yourself from hackers

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Protection over the holidays

Cybersecurity agency warns of hacker attacks

Holidays at home: Hackers take advantage of this wish of many employees – and frequently attack companies over Christmas in particular. But it’s not just companies that could protect themselves better here.

Stuttgart – The cybersecurity agency Baden-Wurttemberg (CSBW) expects a high risk of hacker attacks over the holidays.

Organizations, public authorities and companies are particularly affected, as they often have fewer or no IT staff monitoring their systems during the Christmas period, the authority reports. But private individuals could also become victims.

In times of the Corona pandemic, administration, business and society have "made a digital leap," said Interior Minister Thomas Strobl (CDU), who is also responsible for digitization in the state government. "This offers many opportunities, but also risks, especially at the turn of the year."

Don’t leave systems unattended

Companies, organizations and government agencies are therefore advised by the cybersecurity agency "not to leave their computer systems completely unattended" over the holidays and between years. In the event of an attack, it is also important to have an emergency plan at the ready. Help is available, for example, from the Central Cybercrime Contact Point at the State Office of Criminal Investigation.

Also with private people special caution is necessary, which concerns falsified enamels. Using links to fake websites, criminals tried to obtain passwords, login credentials and credit card numbers. Increasingly, however, these e-mails also contained file attachments with malicious programs.

Private individuals should check e-mails

To check e-mails for authenticity, the CSBW advises, among other things, to pay attention to whether the sender’s address could be forged. Fraudsters often use add-ons such as "service" or "info".

In addition, the correct name of the addressee would always be given in genuine customer e-mails; reputable senders would not use phrases such as "Dear customer".

If there’s a new smartphone under the Christmas tree, the agency also recommends checking security and privacy settings immediately – and setting up new passwords.

Employees should be sensitized

To ensure that cybercriminals have less chance of success at state authorities, cities and municipalities, the CSBW wants to sensitize employees there to cybersecurity in the coming year with a campaign of its own.

Annually, there is a single-digit to low double-digit number of successful cyberattacks in this area, according to the Interior Ministry – even though a majority of the attacks and more than a million spam emails are blocked every day.

The number of cyber-attacks is "constantly increasing", the Ministry of the Interior said. The German Federal Office for Information Security (BSI) expects a significant increase in the number of ransomware attacks in 2021.

Most recently, the BSI issued a red alert at the weekend due to a security vulnerability in a widely used library of Java software. Companies and authorities should update as soon as possible. The vulnerability could allow attackers to run malware on service provider servers under certain circumstances. the vulnerability is limited to some older versions of the library called Log4j.

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