As I pose the question “Anyone for MFA?”, it immediately puts me in mind of that immortal phrase from early twentieth century drawing-room comedies “Anyone for tennis?” The best example of this I’ve found is actually a Monty Python sketch: you can watch it here.

But I digress: back to my question: Anyone for MFA?

This week we have been mostly telling businesses: You need MFA!

What’s MFA I hear you ask – multi-factor authentication.

Why would you need it? – it’s an extra layer of protection meaning that your accounts can’t be hacked just by cracking the password – the MFA code from the authenticator app on your mobile is needed too.

You can add MFA to your logins including Facebook, but the main reason businesses need it is to protect their emails.

We have sadly seen a number of examples of hacked emails this week. The first the business knows about it is when someone calls to ask if they meant to send the email – if anyone replies to the email, the reply is redirected as part of the hacking process so that the business is unaware.

How it works:

  • The cybercriminal gains access to the email system by discovering the password. This could be the result of hacking a supplier, for example, where you helpfully used the same password.  Maybe you generously gave the hackers your password by clicking on a phishing email and entering it to view an attached document.
  • At this point, they can see all your emails and contacts.
  • They can impersonate you, sending emails from within your system which will be coming from your email address and will include your email signature.
  • To cover their tracks, they will add a rule directing all replies to your deleted items folder. This ensures that you won’t see any emailed attempts to warn you or out-of-office responses.
  • Sometimes the cybercriminals have such control over your email system that you can’t even send out emails anymore. This is when it really starts to hurt your business.

If you receive an email that just doesn’t look right – requesting urgent payment for example – CALL the sending business to let them know and tell them to talk to Computer Troubleshooters if they need help eradicating the hacker from their systems – we unfortunately have a lot of experience of doing just this.  And once the cybercriminals have been evicted, they are strongly recommended to set up a strong, unique password and MFA.

The targeted company will also have to report themselves to the Information Commissioner’s Office if any client data has been revealed or shared.  Remember GDPR?  It still applies.

Why do they do it?

  • At the very least, they get access to all your contact information. Very nice source of data of potential new victims.
  • Their emails may be a call to urgent action – please make a payment to our new bank account – in which case it can be very lucrative.
  • These emails will be coming from a trusted contact – you – so they are much more likely to get past spam filters.

If you suspect a hacker is in your system, take immediate action, call the Computer Troubleshooters on 01732 300064.