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As elections loom, beware of hacktivism

As the elections for the European Parliament approach, it’s worth taking a moment to remember that not all hackers are after money. There are, in fact, plenty of groups and individuals who target computer systems for social or political reasons. Inevitably, major electoral contests such as the EP elections in June, create an incentive for those who wish to target specific Governments or organisations they are opposed to, to pass on a particular message.

How can I spot a hacktivist?

Hacktivists use very similar tactics to other hackers and scammers.  These include phishing and smishing, using email and SMS messages to encourage receivers to click links or download files which compromise devices and infect entire systems. In the case of hacktivism, the messaging used may also be designed specifically to generate an emotional response by focussing on controversial political issues.

As with all online communications, whenever you receive a message from a sender you do not recognise or if you are asked to take some action urgently, proceed with extreme caution and verify the details of the sender before clicking on anything. Remember to hover over any links to preview them before visiting any sites.

Why could I be a hacktivism target?

Scammers are always looking for opportunities to launch an online attack. That makes anyone who works for a Government department or agency, their contractors or suppliers, and anyone who works for any organisation which a hacktivist group considers to be on the wrong side of a particular issue, a target.

This means they will be looking to target anyone who may be an access to point to these organisations. As is the case with all hackers, hacktivists know that individuals can be manipulated into giving away information including passwords by either threats or incentives.

If you think carefully about where you work, who your customers and suppliers are, you can be sure to find that you are a potential hacktivist target and could be the person who lets them in.

Preventing a hacktivist attack

Apart from remaining vigilant and treating all unexpected communications with caution, you should always ensure that your passwords are not easy to guess and make use of multi factor authentication. Also make sure that you have up to date antivirus protection installed on your devices. Being aware of the risks around you is always the most important factor in staying safe online.

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