Cyber Aware?

It’s a topic that has been bashed over the head quite a lot recently, with the ISM requirement having come into force and a load of companies pushing their services (and I wont lie… me included!)

But many have been told they must take a training course. To be clear, it is optional! But also, it is recommended! And what I recommend is that every person should at least take the time to take a 20min “open your eyes” type session, and then a short reminder on regular intervals in what should be good habits of simply being aware!

So, here I will touch on what being aware means.

For many the most obvious cyber trap comes through their email box. Those emails that tell you about some high ranking personality in the bush of the wallapops who was buried his stash of million notes that now his niece wants to share it with you. All you have to do is hand over your cash to receive it! What a deal!!

These are slowly disappearing and being replaced by more sophisticated emails, simply telling your bank account has had suspicious activity and you should go to THIS LINK and type in YOUR PIN, full name and your dogs favourite food and bingo.. oh, that wasn’t expected.

But there are other cyber threats a little closer to home. How many of you have given over your computer password to the tech that came by once to sort an issue on your computer, yes the one where you also keep the ships financial papers!

Or, hey, you, service technician, you left your USB behind… well, me crew member, let me see what’s on it… stick that unknown USB stick into my personal computer, and was that a Virus that I just loaded into my computer.

Did you know that some nasty websites that you happen to come across suddenly show you an error message, and you ignoring the error (it doesn’t apply to me, right?!?) you click that plain BIG close button in the middle of the screen… and without you knowing you have just downloaded some very fancy Malware. Malware installs on your computer and acts as a trojan horse, running in the background, collecting information.

Projected this year is an increase in:

  • With more people working from home – there is an increased focus on remote workers.
  • With a rush to push everything to the cloud – many loopholes open as many companies are simply not ready
  • Ransomware will get worse and worse
  • Mobile devices, including smartphones, will be attacked in new ways, including app stores.

So here are some rules.

Check the from address – If you receive an email, from anyone, it may seem like it’s your Boss, check that from address, is it correct?

Don’t open attachments unless you are 100% sure – Any email inviting you to open the attachment instead of simply saying what they want in the email itself is a warning sign.

Don’t follow links without double checking where they have taken you, does the URL/domain name in the top bar actually reflect the site where you should be?

Received a USB with updates from a supplier, Navigation charts? Run it through a virus checker before plugging it into the chart plotter and risk losing your navigation system!

Update the firmware – hackers are constantly exploring security holes in every software out there, and companies are working to fix them as fast as possible. Not updating puts you at risk of being exploited.

Back up your data – If you are hacked, your computer locked to ransom, or simply a hard disk failure. Feel at least safe that you can revert to a not so old backup and continue from there. And then you can evaluate if the ransom threat is actually worth the pain.

The most harmful thought you can have is “it won’t happen to me,” or “I don’t visit unsafe websites.” Cybercriminals don’t discriminate in targeting all sorts of users. Be proactive. Not all mistakes can be undone with “ctrl + Z”.

This article was written by Tim Gorter, Virtual AVIT ETO, Call me if you have any AV or IT questions (I won’t charge or bite for simple questions!) or need technical support and training for crew assigned to look after their AV & IT system onboard. I want to make sure you understand how it works, and that you get the best out of it. Call for an AV & IT health check, more on