OTTAWA — Brian Schrock, Information Security Officer at First Federal Bank, paid a visit to the Ottawa Area Chamber of Commerce meeting Tuesday at the Red Pig Inn to discuss phishing and the dangers it poses to personal and business computer systems.
Phishing is one of the strategies hackers use to invade computer systems to get credit information, blackmail businesses or cause chaos. Hackers send emails mimicking the identity of businesses or contacts a target interacts with frequently, Schrock said. It could be an invoice reminder for a service you frequently use with a link to make the payment fast, he said.
He said once the link is clicked on it’s already too late, an individual computer or a businesses entire system will be invaded by a malicious program such as a trojan or worm. Trojans slip through a systems defenses and can install programs that watch the systems keystrokes, he said.
Worms can contain dangerous viruses which can infect not only an individual computer but an entire system. The virus could be programmed to launch a ransom attack, which encrypts a systems information demanding payment for the key, Schrock said.
“Don’t blow through your emails,” he said. “That’s what they want you to do. Take your time to look at them.”
Schrock said the best defense against phishing attacks is to be caution and use common sense. If you receive an email from someone you know, ask yourself if they would be asking you to click on a suspicious link.
Anti-virus programs and firewalls only work so well and eventually everyone, individual and business, will have their systems invaded, he said. Hackers are usually after credit information and not money when they invade a system looking for information.
“The best thing to do is have a plan,” he said. “Check your bank accounts once a week. Every few months check your credit score.”
Online service LifeLock is useful because it alerts individuals when an anomaly occurs in their credit and allows the credit to be locked, Schrock said.
Reach Bryan Reynolds at 567-242-0362