What is the Malware Attack on PFED HQ all about?

What is a Malware Attack?

Viruses and malware are programs that can attack computers, tablets, phones and other digital devices. A virus is a small program designed to cause trouble by gaining access to your device. It can copy your personal data or slow your device down. A virus spreads by duplicating and attaching itself to other files. By combining the words ‘malicious’ (meaning ‘harmful’) and ‘software’ we get the word ‘malware’. Viruses are just one type of malware; other types include spyware, worms and trojans.

Malware is made to stop your device from running properly and sometimes to steal your information. Your device can be harmed very quickly if it is infected by malware. It could crash, reboot or slow down. Your internet connection may also slow down as the virus or worm searches for other devices to infect, or transmits your data back to its maker.

The Independent report that “Almost half UK businesses suffered cyber attack or security breach last year” so this is by no means an unusual occurrence. You’ll remember that as recently as May 2017, the NHS was almost crippled by a cyber attack which highlighted the need for I.T. Security to be at the forefront of any business when considering their future plans.

Probably not the guy responsible

What have the Police Federation said about this?

We spoke to them today, 21st March 2019 in an effort to spread the message to members and assist. They said:

  • PFEW have instructed a leading forensics firm to help us investigate the matter but this is a complex process and will take some time.
  • Indications are that it was not targeted specifically at PFEW and was likely part of a wider campaign.
  • There is also no evidence at this stage that any data was extracted from PFEW’s systems, although this cannot be discounted at present.
  • Whilst we consider at this stage the risk of your data being extracted or misused is low, we wanted to alert members as to the risk at the earliest opportunity.
  • We continue to work with NCA, NCSC, NPCC and the ICO.

Why was there a delay between the breach and members being informed?

The reason for not updating members or those we hold data on before now was to:

  1. Protect the integrity of the investigation and so we could stabilise our systems in the early stages.
  2. Is that we had to establish whether data had actually been extracted so that we can be clear on what information had been affected.
  3. Reassurance around the fact there is no evidence of data extraction at this stage.

Viruses

A virus is a type of malware that spreads through normal programs. Once your device has a virus it may spread easily and quickly. A virus might just slow down your device – or it might be so severe you lose all your applications and documents.

Worms

Worms can spread from device to device, but unlike a virus they don’t need to attach themselves to other programs. Worms can copy themselves hundreds of times, so they can very quickly harm your device and other devices. A worm might copy itself onto your email account and then send a copy to all of your email contacts.

Trojan horse

A trojan horse (or just a trojan) pretends it will be a useful and safe program, when actually it will try to attack your device. Trojans are named after the story of the Trojan Horse.

Spyware

Spyware is software that installs itself onto devices and then steals personal information about the user, like passwords, email addresses and other important information. It often does it just by keeping a record of everything the user types, which is called key logging. Some spyware can even use your webcam without your knowledge.

How can you avoid viruses or malware?

You have to be smart when using your device. When using the web or email don’t click on anything unless you know what it is. Check if it is an email you’re expecting from an address you recognise or it is a site that you’re sure you can trust. Install *anti-virus software and run regular scans. This will highlight any suspicious software.

Did you know?

An email cannot corrupt your device on its own. Viruses can be hidden in attachments and these could corrupt your system when you run them. Remember not to run a program if you don’t know where it has come from and haven’t chosen to install it.

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