Guns, Gams & Gumshoes

A blog for PIs and writers/readers of the PI genre

  • Writing a Sleuth?

    A Guide for Writing Fictional Sleuths from a Couple of Real-Life Sleuths

    "How to Write a Dick is the best work of its kind I’ve ever come across because it covers the whole spectrum in an entertaining style that will appeal to layman and lawmen alike."

    Available on Kindle

  • Copyright Notices

    All rights reserved by Colleen Collins. Any use of the content on this site (including images owned by Colleen Collins) requires specific, written authority.

    It has come to our attention that people are illegally copying and using the black and white private eye at a keyboard image that is used on our site. NOTE: This image is protected by copyright, property of Colleen Collins.

  • Writing PIs on Twitter

  • Guns, Gams, and Gumshoes

  • Advertisements

Archive for the ‘Cyber-Crime’ Category

National Cyber Security Awareness Month: A Ransomware True Story and Security Tips

Posted by Writing PIs on October 3, 2018


October is National Cyber Security Awareness Month, a good time to review safety measures for protecting our online lives. Unfortunately, it’s not just businesses and online sites that are victimized by cyber-criminals, it can also happen to individuals.

Cyber-Criminals Hacked Into a Writer’s Computer

One Click Opened Her Computer to a Cyber-Criminal (image licensed by Colleen Collins)

One Click and the Cyber-Criminals Gained Control of Her Computer Hard Drive

I have a writer-friend whose computer was hacked a few years ago by cyber-criminals who blocked her access to all the files on her hard drive. A horrible situation as she was nearing the end of finishing a novel and could no longer access any of the book files.

The cyber-criminals demanded a ransom if she wanted access to her files again. Hoping her computer-tech shop could find a way to get her files back, she took in her computer for analysis. Unfortunately, they could do nothing, only verify that her hard drive had been locked by “ransomware.”

Ransom Kept Increasing

Meanwhile, every day the cyber-criminals increased the ransom. With a heavy heart, she paid the ransom, and access to her files was returned. She immediately bought a new computer, a different brand, and her tech-computer shop helped set up her files along with stronger cyber-security.

One Click and the Cyber-Hacker Was In

Cyber-criminals gained access to her computer after she clicked on a single link in an email she thought was sent by a close friend. A reminder to all of us to be cautious about opening links in an email or any other electronic communication. It’s a good idea to first verify with that person (by a phone call, etc.) that they really sent you the link.

Six Tips to Safeguard Your Computer

  1. Maintain updated computer software & apps. Setting up automatic updates is ideal because if you or your webmaster randomly log in to update software/apps, there could be bugs present prior to the update, and bugs = vulnerabilities.
  2. Download from official sites only. There’s a lot of free stuff available for download on the Internet, but you can end up downloading a lot of problems along with that freebie app, program, whatever. Therefore, download from official sites only. It’s also a good idea to be conservative in the number of downloads, too.
  3. Create unique passwords with upper & lowercase letters, numbers and symbols. I know, you’ve probably heard this password warning a gazillion times, but making passwords easy to guess, or using the same password across multiple sites, invites a cyber-criminal to pay a visit. Some people say you shouldn’t use a password manager as some are fraudulent. I don’t use a password manager, nor do I have any idea which ones might be corrupted, so I’ll leave that topic for you to further research.
  4. Cover your computer camera. Seems hackers have taken over people’s computer cameras without their knowledge (with no light indicators alerting the users, either). I can see the reasoning behind this — for example, you’re speaking to someone on your phone about a confidential business manner while you’re at your computer, that dialogue could be captured by cyber-criminals. Even if the audio isn’t captured, the computer user is so close to the camera, lip-reading could be easy. Covering the camera with a piece of tape is easy to do. Then remove the tape when you want to use the camera.
  5. Use encryption software. CNET has an Encryption page with articles about many different facets of encryption, from router settings, to how to use Skype’s end-to-end encryption feature, and more: CNET Encryption
  6. Backups. Regularly back up your files (especially those book files, writers!), and store them offline. (Thanks, @Mededitor)

Additional Resources

Stay Safe Online: Tips for keeping a clean computer, protecting your personal files and more.

Homeland Security: Events, tips and related links for National Cyber Security Awareness Month


All rights reserved by Colleen Collins. Please do not copy/distribute any images – these are licensed by the author, who does not have legal authority to share with others. 

Advertisements

Posted in Cyber-Crime | Tagged: , , | Comments Off on National Cyber Security Awareness Month: A Ransomware True Story and Security Tips

 
%d bloggers like this: