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East Midlands Chamber News

Masterclass in hacking offered at regional cyber security conference


The ease with which modern hackers can access data was the focus of a cyber security conference yesterday (27 September).


From using high-powered cameras to record data as it is inputted to devices to using programmed memory sticks to transmit sign-on and password information in seconds, criminals have no qualms about using our own technology against us.


But we also make it easy for them, delegates learned at the conference at Chesterfield’s Proact Stadium, hosted by East Midlands Chamber and sponsored by RDS Global.


Among the easiest methods of hacking identified was shoulder-surfing, where someone takes out a laptop on a train, for example, and doesn’t consider the risk posed by a person standing behind them using their phone camera to record their sign on.


Another common mistake people make is to put their router on a window sill with password information displayed on the back of it or to have computer screens clearly visible in windows.


Unethical hackers have also been known to pose as cleaners or workmen to wander round offices after hours, taking the opportunity to fit key-tracking devices to the backs of computers to record key strokes.


The consensus of advice from all the speakers at the conference was to identify the risks, take steps not to expose yourself to them, back up your work frequently and have a contingency plan in place for when, not if, you get hit so that you can recover quickly and get back to work.


Ethical hacker Joe Burns, Technical Director at Pyranet and one of the speakers at the conference, was able to demonstrate how quickly and easily data can be stolen.


Police officer Rob Pugh, of the East Midlands Special Operations Cyber Security Unit gave a graphic illustration of how easily Google follows every movement of mobile phone users, even when their phones are in ‘airplane’ mode or don’t have sim cards in.


He also showed how just ten cyber attacks in the past year netted hackers 3.28 billion items of data.


And Rob Kay, of RDS Global, advised delegates to never use open access wifi for personal things such as banking and to ensure good password protocols to make it impossible for hackers to guess them.


Andy Watterson, the Chamber’s Business Crime Manager, said: “It’s quite frightening just how easily we give hackers opportunities to access our private data. We’re the first to point the finger at the big organisations that put our data at risk, but how many of us obey all the rules to keep our own data safe?


“The bigger an organisation is the more scope there is for weak links to appear in their cyber security, but it’s essential that all staff are trained to recognise the threats and take responsibility for reducing them.”