Although most of these cases were thwarted, internet specialists Arkom are urging South Yorkshire businesses to ensure their networks are not vulnerable to similar attacks.

KeyLoggers are programmes or pieces of hardware which enable an individual or an organisation to monitor every key stroke made on a computer. This includes email, IM Conversations and, more worryingly, passwords to your online accounts. Although sometimes used for legitimate reasons there are growing instances of KeyLogging programmes being surreptitiously installed on PC’s in order to commit fraud or identity theft.

Even when the cases of monitoring key strokes are deemed legitimate, for example, when employers choose to scrutinise PC activity of staff to identify illegal or immoral activity, the unidentified presence of a spyware pest could mean the highly sensitive information is distributed via the internet to a cyber fraudster anywhere in the world. Arkom Managing Director, Alan Easter-Robinson comments:-

The morality of spying on your employees is questionable to say the least, but when you may be putting their sensitive information into the hands of criminals the fallout from such an exercise could be far more costly than simply the loss of morale and trust. We would urge employers to use KeyLogging applications and software with great discretion and not as a matter of course.”

However, a greater threat to the security of the internet comes from the likelihood of an individual downloading files from the internet which have KeyLogging Programmes secreted on them. Once installed, these programs can be used to access bank account details, personal email accounts and to ultimately steal your identity.

To help their clients protect themselves against the KeyLoggers, Arkom have produced a seven point plan which should ensure they do not fall victim to the latest cyber swindle:

  1. Take care when downloading files from the internet and don’t become complacent. Check files originate from a source you can trust.
  2. Ensure your anti-virus and anti-spyware software are up-to-date and working correctly.
  3. Consider installing a firewall and make sure it is properly set up.
  4. Follow proper security procedures. Make sure your password is not easy for someone else to work out or guess, change passwords regularly and do not disclose them to anyone else.
  5. If your computer is 'infected' with a KeyLogging program, use the anti-spyware software to remove it.
  6. Find out how the spyware go onto your computer in the first place and take steps to prevent it happening in the future.
  7. Always seek professional advice from a reputable computer supplier or your network manager/ administrator.

As Alan concludes, “the most important thing is to be aware — do not implicitly trust the internet and do not download anything which you are unsure about. There is nothing you can do to totally eliminate the possibility of an Internet Fraud attack, but these steps will make you a less attractive candidate from a fraudsters point of view.”