Cybercrime for newbies: a four-part video series on information security

Davina Luyten

Communications Officer @ Belnet
Sun, 10/01/2023 - 13:28

Throughout October, we are paying extra attention to information security. Belnet is actively supporting GÉANT's annual Cyber Security Month campaign. This year's topics include online privacy, phishing, social engineering and ransomware. In a playful four-part video series, we follow Granny Smith, a retired lady who has found a side income in cybercrime.

Have you ever wondered how hackers find their victims? Do you know what tricks they use to steal data or money? Then meet Granny Smith. In her four-part vlog “Cybercrime for newbies” she’ll teach you how easy it actually is to trick people. But no panic: our Cyber Heroes go through every tactic and give you tips on how to outsmart hackers. Because being safe online is easy once you know what to look out for! 

Each week we’ll release an episode of Granny Smith’s adventures, addressing different topics: 

  • Week 1: online privacy, data protection, digital footprint 
  • Week 2: phishing, smishing, vishing 
  • Week 3: social engineering, ransomware, back-ups 
  • Week 4: reporting cyber incidents, knowledge sharing within the community 

So make sure to keep an eye on this page!

Video 1: How much can Granny Smith find out about you?

Tips from our Cyber Heroes

Topics of this video: data protection, online privacy, digital footprint 

We often share more than we realise: a harmless picture here, a social media post there - and with little effort, a detailed picture of us can be drawn from individual snippets of information. This information can be used by cyber criminals to launch targeted attacks on us. What data do you disclose? 

Data protection: Be careful with what you put online. Online privacy: It's not just about what you share, but who can see it. The right settings can make all the difference. 

  • Once something is on the Internet or social media, it is hard to delete. So be careful what you post online. Every piece of information can be a piece of the puzzle in the overall picture of you. 
  • It's not just about what you share, but also about who can view this information. So regularly check the privacy settings of the social media apps you use. 
  • Turn off the location features on your smartphone: otherwise your photos will contain information about where you were at the time. 
  • Be careful when accepting friend requests. Cybercriminals use fake accounts to get to your data.

Video 2: Would you have recognised Granny Smith’s fake message?

Granny Smith strikes using all the info she gathered from her internet research to scam John Wright. But what exactly are these tricks that cyber criminals use? 

  • Phishing: Like Granny Smith's email to John, posing as a legitimate message to steal valuable login information. These fraudulent emails can often look deceptively genuine. 
  • Vishing: If the phone rings and a trusted entity asks you for confidential information, it could be a voice message scam. 
  • Smishing: This is phishing via SMS. A fake message, perhaps even from a known number, might ask you to click on a link or reveal personal information. 
  • Spoofing: The pretence of a legitimate identity, just like Granny Smith forging a streaming service email address. It makes the message or caller seem more trustworthy. • Malware: Malicious software that often hides behind innocent-looking downloads or attachments. Once activated, it can steal data, lock devices or even control your computer.

Tips from our Cyber Heroes

  • Check where the link you need to click on will lead you to. Hover over the link with your mouse. Is the domain name, the word before “.be”, “.com”, “.eu”, “.org”, etc. and before the very first slash "/", really the organization’s name? 
  • Is the message urgent, unexpected or is someone trying to make you curious? If so, be extra vigilant. Cybercriminals use various techniques to manipulate their victims: fear or arousing curiosity are some of them. 
  • If something is too good to be true, it usually is - especially on the Internet. Ask yourself if the request or opportunity sent to you via email is realistic. Did I even participate in a contest? Would a luxury brand sell bags at this incredibly low price? 
  • If you are not sure if the sender of the message is really the one he claims to be, check back through another (official) channel. Have you received a suspicious message that seems to come from your bank? Then contact your bank through an official channel.

Video 3: Would Granny Smith have pressured you into opening the fake attachment?

Topics of this video: social engineering, ransomware, backups 

Hacker Granny Smith is at work again. She shows how even the most observant individuals can be tricked, especially if they are attacked at the right moment. But what tactics and tools does she use this time and how can we protect ourselves effectively? 

  • Ransomware: As shown in the video, a simple email with an attachment can encrypt all your data and blackmail you if you open the attachment hiding malware. 
  • Back-ups: If you have regular back-ups of your data, you don't have to pay to get it back. It is the safest way to protect yourself against data loss. 
  • Updates: Security gaps can often be closed by updates. So always keep your software and operating systems up to date. 
  • First aid in the event of a cyber incident: Do you know what to do? Quick action can limit damage and save data.

Tips from our Cyber Heroes

What to do in the event of a ransomware attack? 

  • Notify your organisation's IT service/help desk as soon as possible. 
  • Disconnect your PC or laptop from the internet to prevent further spread of the ransomware. 
  • Leave your device on but do not use your laptop anymore. Follow the guidelines from your IT service/help desk.

Video 4: Would you have reported the incident?

Even though Granny Smith's criminal adventure is fictional, it shows us the importance of quick response and open communication in the event of a cyber incident. 

  • Reporting in your organisation: If you notice that something is wrong, you should report it. John's immediate action helped prevent further damage. 
  • First aid in the event of a cyber incident: Do you know what to do? Quick action can limit damage and save data. 
  • Sharing with the community: By sharing our experiences with others, we help to create more awareness. John has warned others of potential dangers by sharing his experience. 
  • Knowledge: By keeping ourselves informed about the latest tricks and threats, we can better protect ourselves against them.
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