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Cyber Security: Complex solutions made Simple

We use a number of methods and vendors to help completely secure our customers data. Backups for ransomware protection, password managers for credentials, multi-factor authentication, anti-spoof & anti-phishing protection, RADIUS authentication and device audit and management. Read more about how we help organisations.


Cyber-fraud or future currency? All about Bitcoin.

The crypto-currency, Bitcoin, has risen to fame in recent years, and become especially prevalent due to the recent media coverage linked to the WannaCry ransomware attack. Bitcoins have the advantage of anonymity for criminals and cyber-fraud, but could this currency become a mainstream method of payment in the future?

What is a crypto-currency?

For those that are unfamiliar with bitcoins, and other forms of crypto-currency, they are simply a form of digital currency. This currency is underpinned by a technology called blockchain, and can be traded from one person’s ‘wallet’ to another. These bitcoins possess value, and can be traded as if they were any other type of currency. Once the bitcoin software has been downloaded, an individual is connected to other bitcoin users over the internet, and a set of unique keys are generated that enable the transfer of bitcoins to other users. One key is kept private and the other is public, but it is almost impossible to work out an individual’s private key is from their public key. These keys can then be used to transfer bitcoins between users.

History of Bitcoin and cyber-fraud

First created in 2009, Bitcoins became famous between 2011 and 2013 when traders rapidly inflated their value through purchasing millions of dollars of Bitcoins. This allowed these criminal traders to be able to move money outside the control and watch of law enforcers. Bitcoins offer criminals the dual advantages of having a decentralized currency that can be traded without a middle man, combined with the additional advantage of high anonymity. Perfect for executing cyber-fraud. The value of bitcoins has risen so rapidly that in March 2017 the value actually surpassed that of an ounce of gold.

The use of bitcoins is seen as controversial for a number of reasons. The major issue with this currency is that it operates outside the control of the central bank and government. This means that tracking the movement of this currency becomes more complicated. This has made bitcoins an attractive option for the illegal market and for cyber-fraud.

Bitcoins are also changing the way in which personal wealth is stored and managed. The control of personal wealth has been restored to the individual through this crypto-currency, removing the power formerly held by banks. However, unlike traditional transactions, bitcoin transfers are final and wealth is subject to no form of insurance, making this a risky method of storing wealth.

Are crypto-currencies the future?

Despite its affiliations with the illegal economy, and the association with cyber-fraud, major banks and companies across the world are in talks to adopt digital currencies such as Bitcoins. Already Bitcoins can be used to purchase certain items including Dell laptops and vouchers to be used at major shops. A recent survey completed by Cambridge University estimates that over 6 million people across the world possess a bitcoin ‘wallet’. This suggests that there is a possibility of mass adoption of this currency.

Although the greatest level of attention is given to bitcoins use in the shadow economy, the greatest use is actually in the legal economy. Many believe that the technology blockchain underpinning bitcoin transactions could be used for other things. One suggested use is for the government to be able to track international aid money, for tracking the origins of raw materials in supply chains and for online voting.

In addition, if people lose trust in traditional currencies crypto-currencies may increase in importance. Governments are able to print money in order to finance government debt, which essentially works as an inflation tax. The use of Bitcoins prevents this from happening as there is a mathematical limit on the amount of Bitcoins that can be created. The future of Bitcoins is uncertain but many are excited about the potential this technology has to revolutionise markets.

For those that are interested in cyber-fraud, there are additional blog posts you can read on the subjects of cyber-security and cyber-fraud.

With over 20 years of experience, Serviceteam IT design and deliver sophisticated connectivity, communication, continuity, and cloud services, for organisations that need to stay connected 24/7. We take the time to fully understand your current challenges, and provide a solution that gives you a clear understanding of what you are purchasing and the benefits it will bring you.

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Cyber Security and Cyber Fraud

Cyber security and cyber fraud. Look, there is no easy answer to this, albeit many pundits, commentators and politicians would have you believe there is. First of all, I’m a technologist, I love it. However, technology does not hold the key to the solution to this issue. The simplistic application of some ethereal technical solution is laughable. Politicians are especially prone to this quick fix approach, quite possibly because they surround themselves with self-publicising ‘experts’ who know who they’re talking to, but don’t know what they’re talking about.

I read a statement a couple of days ago by Ed Vaizey, Minister for Culture, Communications and Creative Industries, that companies should encrypt their data. Now that’s an excellent idea, but what are we encrypting here and how are we encrypting it? Is it the communication between the consumer and their browser and the server of the provider? Is it the storage volume of the data? Is this all data? All communication?

What is being asked for is in actual fact already carried out, especially the communication of data via the Internet through your browser. But who’s to say your computer has not been compromised because you’ve not updated it for six years? Or that you are completely secure, yet accessed a website in order to move your life savings by clicking a link on an email? Much of the information a fraudster would need can be found by rummaging through the bins, the only cyber element here is that fact that millions of people can be targeted.

Vaizey’s other bright idea was even more worrying, some form of Kite Mark (BS/ISO) in order to denote an organisation is ‘safe’. An organisation such as TalkTalk, with the processes and procedures would easily achieve such an approval. Sadly, if you listen carefully to what TalkTalk are saying, they did have a data breach, however, the data could not be used on it’s own. It can be used to fraudulently acquire funds in the same old-fashioned way. Conning someone into believing that they’re something they’re not.

Oh wait! That actually gets to my point. If someone calls you and offers you something which could be too good to be true, it probably is. Education and empowerment of individuals is money far better spent than on a distraction such as a Kite Mark. I’m old enough to remember the Green Cross Code and Klunk-Click Every Trip from the seventies. Perhaps it’s time we have more educational initiatives based around todays’ issues.

Where we’re not really geared for mass re-education programmes, we can help with the deployment of Unified Threat Management devices to mitigate your business users’ mistakes, coupled with excellent understanding of best practice for your users.