The recent data leak at British Airways saw hackers steal the financial data of 380,000 customers.
It is the latest in a whirlwind of cyber attacks that spread computer viruses and install malware to loot bank accounts and demand ransom.
The Mail on Sunday received exclusive access to the Secret Service's National Cyber Security Center to learn more about this growing dark web threat.
The Mail on Sunday got exclusive access to the Secret Service's National Cyber Security Center to learn more about the growing dark web threat
Nowadays, James Bond needs more than just a poison-pointing fountain pen or an Aston Martin with rotating license plates. He also needs the skills of an IT expert.
Although the secret agent may be a fictional character, his evil arch enemy Specter becomes reality. Led by super-villain Blofeld – played by cat-stricken actor Donald Pleasence in You Only Live Twice – Specter stands for Special Executive for Counter Intelligence, Terrorism, Revenge and Extortion. The shadowy organization can also be used as a description of the 21st century for the dark web.
To combat this growing threat of cyber-terrorism, the National Cyber Security Center was established two years ago as a new branch of the intelligence service of the government, which includes the security service (MI5) and the secret service (MI6).
Controlled by the Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ), which cracked the German Enigma codes in the Second World War, it is housed in a large office building near the headquarters of the secret intelligence service in Millbank, central London.
The cybersecurity technical director is Dr. Ian Levy, who invited The Mail to his den on Sunday to learn how the secret technology defends us against an avalanche of cyber attacks.
The National Cyber Security Center was established two years ago as a new branch of the government intelligence service, which includes the Security Service (MI5) and the intelligence intelligence service (MI6).
Welcomed by six highly dressed guards in the foyer, we are guided through two levels of security level that require separate color code cards. A guide taps figures in the wall as we walk through bank-safe doors to an open office.
There is no trace of Daniel Craig sitting at his desk and doing his expenses, and outside Miss Missy's meeting room, Miss Moneypenny seems to have lunch. Even the coat rack in the corner is missing.
The intelligence service has become smart-casual. Dr Levy arrives with a trendy Ted Baker jacket, two-tone brown brogues and blue jeans.
He says: & # 39; There is a general misconception that cybersecurity is all spooks on the trail of hackers in hoodies. The reality is that cyber security is something that we need to be open about. We use our technical expertise and knowledge to block an average of 4.5 million malicious emails per month that would otherwise be for computer users. & # 39;
A dedicated army of computer officers housed in the top security building works around the clock to preserve this cyber ring of steel for the nation.
Keeping the hackers one step ahead is a constant challenge and requires the best IT brains in Britain to develop new software to block the attacks of fraudsters. As soon as a new phishing website is on our shores, an active cyber defense unit is proposing to block the criminal within an hour.
The technical director of the National Cyber Security Center, Dr. Ian Levy, invited The Mail to his den on Sunday to learn how his secret technology defends us against an avalanche of cyber attacks
About 80,000 cyber attacks were thwarted last year – including 590 & # 39; important cases & # 39; that may have led to widespread computer virus infections and ransomware that stole our personal information. The center also offers online security advice to up to 100,000 computer users per month.
Behind the scenes of the secret service is financed with a cash injection of 1.9 billion pounds from the government. It not only prevents millions of unwanted e-mails coming in, but the center's work also helps to destroy copycat websites and block 120,000 spoof & # 39; @ gov.uk & # 39; addresses.
Hackers from foreign governments – from Russia, China and North Korea – are also regularly intercepted from the way their software codes are written.
Levy says: "It is our job to make Great Britain an unattractive target for cyber criminals, but we are not a regulator. We are here to offer real support. There is no reason to panic, but we all have to take cyber security seriously. As a computer user, not only do you always have to back up data, but you should also consider using security software and password administrators who store complex password codes for you. & # 39;
The National Cyber Security Center offers advice for fighting fraud at ncsc.gov.uk. It also supports companies that want to improve their cybersecurity. Last year, it worked with the National Health Service when WannaCry ransomware hacked the computers of 47 trusts.
Six ways to thwart cyber thieves
1. Be alert. It is a big job, but checking your bank statements every month is essential. Call the bank if you are unsure of a transaction. Also use a credit control agency for a one-time free check to ensure that no one uses your personal information to set up loans. Agencies include Experian, Equifax and Call Credit. But you oppose the signing of a deal that costs £ 15 per month.
2. Stay safe with antivirus software. Although it can be free, you may want to pay £ 40 per year for security of different gadgets. Do not be tempted by & # 39; pop-up windows & # 39; providing security – this can be a scam. Accept security software updates because they offer continuous protection.
3. Use a strong password for online accounts. Imaging can help with codes, but also take account of password management software from £ 10 per year.
4. Do not share personal information. Social media can be fun, but it's a great place for spies to get your private data – photos, birthday and holidays – that can puzzle like a jigsaw puzzle and put your financial security at risk.
5. Be wary of public wi-fi. Cheaters can get into it – often offered in a cafe or train – to spy on what you do on your smartphone or laptop. Be careful when making payments or opening bank details if you are unsure of a connection. Some cheaters even mimic public Wi-Fi to get your data.
6. Do not trust websites without first checking the suffix. Fraudsters can steal details and money through fake websites. They look official, but the last letters often give away the game. For example, Airbnb cheats have a suffix & # 39; co.com & # 39; used for fraudulent bookings to steal money. The real one is & # 39; co.uk & # 39;
The prefix is also worth a look. A prefix & https & # 39; shows a website that is safer than a website that starts with just a & # 39; http & # 39; The code stands for & # 39; Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure & # 39 ;.
Fight against e-mail & # 39; phishing & # 39; fraudsters
Approximately 17 million victims in Britain were cleaned up last year from a total of £ 4.6 billion as a result of cyber fraud, according to software company Norton.
One of the most common methods used by criminals to steal our money is to show computer users what important personal banking information is by sending false e-mails.
Known as phishing fraud & # 39 ;, the sender often claims someone as an official to gain trust, perhaps as a bank employee or tax inspector. There is usually a sense of urgency involved, such as a claim that someone else is emptying your bank account, causing you to panic.
The best answer is to stay calm and not answer. Often, only checking the details of the e-mail address from which the message was sent is sufficient to ring alarm bells. Spelling mistakes are commonplace because the shippers are often located overseas.
Call the company that the sender of e-mail claims to represent to verify that it is genuine. A bank will never ask you to share your personal information with them or with someone else.
Colin Tankard, from the Harlow-based data protection company Digital Pathways, says: & # 39; See if the email address matches who it claims to be. Minor spelling mistakes are a sign that something is wrong.
& # 39; You can also look up an email address on Google to see if it is marked as a security risk. & # 39;
It is not just fake e-mails that can mislead you into revealing important personal information.
Also keep an eagle informed of copycat websites. Accommodation websites, passport assistance and tax support services can look real until you study the suffix of the e-mail. & # 39; Co.uk & # 39; is for example an indication of an official website. But & # 39; co.com & # 39; might suggest that the website is a copy, hoping to let you pay for services that are free from official websites.
Website ActionFraud offers advice to victims, but you must first contact your bank and the police.
Armed security software
It is the habit of a frequent fraudster to claim to provide technical support that lures victims to click on pop-up ads that claim to speed Internet speeds or search for malware on the computer.
But nothing is less true. They compromise computer performance and can install Trojan horse software that spies on what you do on your computer.
Another threat is a ransomware attack, where malicious software is installed on a computer. This can happen by accidentally opening a pop-up window that appears on your computer screen.
After installation, requirements can be set for £ 100 or more to prevent the attacker from sharing your personal information or information about browsing the website with others. They can also pose a threat to shutting down your computer and destroying the memory.
Security expert Colin Tankard says: & # 39; It is not a matter of whether, but rather when you are hacked. But you do not have to allow it to keep you awake at night, because there is antivirus software available – some even free – that can help you fight the cyber criminals who are looking to get you . & # 39;
Approximately 17 million victims in Britain were cleaned up last year from a total of £ 4.6 billion due to cyber fraud, according to software company Norton
Names of households such as Avira, Sophos, Symantec and McAfee can be trusted. Some, such as Avira and Sophos, offer free standard antivirus systems to ensure that your computer systems are clean. You can later upgrade to a premium service for £ 40 or more per year for additional anti-virus protection.
Tankard adds: & # 39; A part of the arsenal that is in antivirus software is blocking unwanted pop-up windows. These windows can put you on dark weblists that are then sold to other criminals. & # 39;
The security expert warns you that you may not even be aware of malware installed until it is too late. Once installed, so-called & # 39; man-in-the-middle & # 39; Fraudsters see what you're looking at on your computer and the letters and numbers you tap on a keyboard.
They will then strike when they see information that you have keyed in to access your bank account. The technique is a modern version of thread taps.
It is important to install legitimate software updates because they often include the latest measures that can be taken to help criminals thwart.
Security software must prevent malware attacks, but if you are still having problems, ask for computer support from a specialized IT repair shop. Repairs cost £ 50, but you may have to pay more – £ 200 – to sort it out. A price that is worth paying.
Fraudsters always try to get security alerts to help them break into your computer
Hide passwords in a secure safe
FRAUDSTERS always try to get their security passwords so that they can break into your computer.
Password management software allows users to log into a secret vault of codes used to access daily services, from bank accounts to online stores. After logging in with a single master password, the software will do the rest and remember all the different encrypted codes for the individual accounts you regularly visit.
Those who are considering LastPass, 1Password, Dashlane, Norton Identity Safe and RoboForm. Fundamental, secure portfolio services are free, but for access from different devices – computers, iPads and smartphones – it costs between £ 10 and £ 20 per year.
Ruby Gonzales, from the secured internet provider Nord VPN, says: Cyber criminals often only need your password to unlock access to your private data and gain access to your finances.
Nowadays, it makes no sense to only have a memorable password that is shared across different accounts.
& # 39; You need high-tech help with a password manager, where difficult to crack codes are provided that are changed regularly. You do not need to remember them if you have specialized software to store them. Everything you need is a master password. & # 39;
Be prepared for future cyber attacks
Knowing your enemy is one thing, but you also have to be vigilant and watch out for the next cyber attack.
Ruby Gonzales says that websites like Have I Been Pwned can search websites to see if your e-mail address contains a list of those who have been the victims of a possible data breach and are likely to be attacked earlier. The term & # 39; pwn & # 39; is hacking jargon for someone who uses computer programs that have been developed by others to attack systems – and take control of other people's computers.
She says: "There is no reason to panic, but appearing on a list of victims of data leaks is a sure sign that it is high time to change your password. Choose a new secure name that is not used on website accounts that you may already have and that are difficult to crack. & # 39;
Cyber criminals are probably targeting people in society who may be vulnerable. Older people are the largest target group, while those who are looking for love are also prey.
Greed is another weakness that misuses fraudsters. Such scams include, among other things, that you have won a fortune in an international lottery, but in order to win the prize, you must first hand in cash. Scammers also rely on people who share their lives on social media, using websites and apps such as Snapchat, Instagram and Facebook.
A criminal does not have to put a lot of effort into putting together a puzzle for someone who likes to share every detail of his social life with others on the internet.
THIS IS MONEY FIVE OF THE BEST BROADBAND OFFERS