Vasileios’s advice to others
Primarily, fortify your computers. Keep security patches up to date and always have a solid antivirus and firewall running. Always keep your most vital files on backup, especially to drives that are kept off-line or utilize a really proven secure cloud. And yes, never open up any attachments or links from emails that do not appear legitimate or do not appear to be written by people you know. I’ve had several of those come from email addresses of members of my contact list. Generally, be vigilant.
Age 43, USA, business owner
I actually have two stories of cybercrime. The first time it was identity theft of a woman I was living with, and the second it was an actual credit card information theft.
At the time of the events, we were living in Greece. I remember August specifically. We were on vacation when past midnight I received an SMS alert on my phone, saying that my credit card was charged approximately the amount of 643 Euros for camera equipment purchase in Switzerland. My thoughts went immediately to my fiance\’s computer, where I had used my credit card to update her World of Warcraft subscription. I suspected that since she loved going to various “underground” websites for news, a keylogger or malware was installed on her system. I immediately called my bank and reported the incident. As we were talking on the phone, they canceled my credit card on the spot and said that the money was not yet withdrawn by the merchant, but it was bound as outgoing. For the transaction to be canceled, I had to wait for approximately 30 days. Thankfully, the unauthorized purchase never went through, I changed the credit card and then fortified my fiance`s computer as heavily as I had my own.
The second time was not far away, time-wise from the first. This time, it was my fiance\’s Facebook and email information that was hacked. I remember we were in Athens, when I received a Google chat request from her, claiming that she was trapped in London and lost her passport. At the exact same time, my actual fiance was sitting next to me. Granted, I was tempted to expose this crook, but she asked me to keep him talking as she contacted a friend who was working at the FBI (she was a US citizen). Rather quickly, he got back to her saying that the perpetrator was actually in Türkiye, bouncing his IP off a server in Nigeria. All this time, the impostor attempted to convince me to send him (pretending to be her) the amount of 1,700 Euros so that “she” could return to the US.
Ever since, I’ve been even more dead serious about fortifying all computer systems, including phones and tablets from firewalls to ad-blockers (to stop malicious ads) to VPN. I used to have antivirus throughout all systems (I still run it on my Android devices), but since I shifted entirely to Linux, it’s very few things that can actually sneak in. I take online security extremely seriously, as I also see the number of attacks my websites sustain on a daily basis.
Mark A. · Age 32 · Canada · team lead
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