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Council urges residents and businesses to be cyber security aware

Perth & Kinross Council is urging local residents and businesses to ensure they are cyber security aware in light of the uncertain times we are living in. Cyber criminals often use this uncertainty, and people's understandable concerns, as an opportunity for their own gain.

In times of change, a lot of things are unexpected, making it more difficult to spot scams. People can also be distracted and may be less likely to critically question information they are receiving. With requirements changing rapidly at the moment, we are all struggling slightly to keep up. Cyber criminals see this as an opportunity to exploit people's lack of knowledge.

Phishing

Cyber criminals often use a technique known as phishing. Local residents and businesses should expect to receive a higher volume of phishing emails in the upcoming period, some of which may be very sophisticated and targeted.

Perth & Kinross Chief Executive Karen Reid said:

"Phishing emails can lead to loss of data or money. The technique is an attempt by the 'attacker' to trick you into doing 'the wrong thing' such as clicking on a link, downloading a file or program, or entering your details. 

"This phishing contact is often an email, but can also be via social media, text, phone call, or even postal mail.  Phishing is the number one way for attackers to gain access to networks for other cyber-attacks. One of the best ways to spot phishing attempts is to look for the unexpected.

"There are a number of simple steps you can take to help protect you from cyber criminals. Never disclose your security details, such as your PIN or any passwords; Don't assume an email request or caller is genuine - people aren't always who they say they are; Don't be rushed - a genuine caller won't mind waiting to give you time to stop and think; Listen to your instincts - if something feels wrong then question it and finally, always stay in control and have the confidence to refuse unusual requests for information."

Ransomeware

Another form of prevalent cyber-attack currently is Ransomware. Ransomware spreads through networks and encrypts all the data so that it cannot be read causing significant disruption. Cyber criminals may also copy information for their own use.  They then sell the key to unlock files for a large sum of money.  However, this is not guaranteed, and they may leave themselves a 'backdoor' - a way back into the system later.

Suspect emails

If you are suspicious of an email you have received look for your email provider's 'spam' or 'phishing' button.  Clicking this submits it to your provider so that they can analyse it and block future emails of this kind.  For further information, visit the Take five to stop fraud website.