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From “ransomware” to “phishing”: how not to become a victim of a cyber attack

The accelerated digitization process brings with it great successes, but at the same time, the number of cyberattacks is increasing and doubts are growing about how to avoid new forms of fraud. In 2021, the National Cybersecurity Institute’s (INCIBE) Cybersecurity Assistance Service handled approximately 70,000 requests, mostly related to concerns about SMS and fraudulent emails. Ransomware, phishing, and smishing are some of the most common terms to pay special attention to.

Banco Santander offers a range of online security recommendations to lead a headache-free digital life, with a dedicated space on its website that has everything users need to know to avoid falling into the hands of cybercriminals. It also has an online security test to see if we are well protected.

How to avoid an attack?

One of the forms of cyberattacks with the highest frequency today are the so-called Ransomware, a type of malware – malware designed to block access to a computer and the files it contains in order to later demand a ransom in exchange for their restoration. It has several options: the least aggressive ones only prevent the normal operation of the computer, while the most dangerous encrypt all files on the device – a computer or mobile phone – and prevent them from opening.

The most common way to open the door for this type of virus to our devices is via email. Criminals impersonate recognized organizations or institutions using a disturbing or highly attractive message, which is usually accompanied by an attachment or a link to download it – this method is known as phishing—. In this case, Santander cybersecurity experts recommend do not open the message and do not follow the link, but delete it immediately. These files are not malware, but the program that downloads it, so antiviruses do not detect them well.

In fact, the latest INCIBE Cybersecurity Bulletin reports an uptick in Emotet malware, a Trojan type that is being spread by sending these fraudulent emails. The goal is for the person to open the attached files or click on the download link. It is always recommended that an organization keep a copy of the information stored on the disk in case it needs to be restored.

WhatsApp and SMS/MMS messages are also susceptible to this type of attack: you should never trust messages that contain a link whose origin is not entirely accurate. Social media is no exception, and cybercriminals often create false profiles using apps that promise outrageous price offers or free features, although there may be malware behind the information.

Another key recommendation to avoid falling victim to this modality: always download applications from official sites —official source or manufacturer’s pages—to avoid installing a file that infects a computer or mobile device with ransomware or other types of malicious software. Also, it is important that the software is updated to the latest version.

Keys to protect yourself from malware

To protect against computer viruses, Santander recommends installing antivirus and malware software, keeping it up to date, and regularly scheduled scans. In addition, you must protect your own networks and never use an open Wi-Fi connection, Think before you click, ensure the security of personal information and use multiple passwords.

The Internet Security Office (OSI) has a dedicated section with instructions for unlocking devices. OSI warned in March of an increase stunning, another cyber attack strategy. These are fraudulent SMS campaigns that pretend to be, among other things, numerous banking institutions. The goal is to direct the victim to a fake web page that pretends to be a legitimate bank website in order to steal their credentials to access the online banking service.

How do online robbers act in this case? They send messages with slogans such as: “For your security, access to your account has been blocked. Unblock it by following our link: [URL fraudulenta]” that try to alert the user to quickly click and perform the specified steps without stopping to analyze the situation. If you receive an SMS with such characteristics and access the link by providing access data – username and password – you must contact the bank as soon as possible to cancel possible transactions that could be performed.

One of the most effective tools available to Banco Santander customers is the IBM Trusteer Rapport software, a free program that provides an extra layer of security for more secure navigation. Although Santander’s digital banking system has all the necessary security measures, there are cybercriminals who develop methods to obtain personal information and try to steal money. This software automatically removes viruses or malware from your computer by detecting potential risks, providing better protection for your financial accounts and information.

Cyber ​​Fraud Warning via Bizum

The organization is also warning about a new form of scam through Bizum asking for money instead of sending it, and this mainly affects sellers of goods who demand payment in this way. Cybercriminals masquerade as would-be buyers and try to deceive the seller into showing an interest in purchasing the item for sale by making a transaction through Bizum. However, instead of making a payment, they send a request for money to the seller, who, if accepted, will pay the amount to the intended buyer.

Santander recommends paying close attention to the options in the bank app that clearly distinguish between “sending” and “receiving” money. If you are a victim, you should immediately contact the bank to inform them of the incident, as Bizum is an instant transaction and difficult to reverse.

An effective option for small and medium businesses is Cyber ​​Guardian, a new solution for SMEs to protect themselves from the threats of the digital world and strengthen their protection with the same capabilities that large corporations already have. This is a Santander and Factum service that offers the ability to assess your cybersecurity risk; Protect your devices, email and web browsing, and educate your employees.


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