Skip main navigation

Cyber security breaches

Phishing affects all of us. Watch Cory Doctorow explain his personal experiences of phishing an its impacts.

Britain is being targeted by many thousands of cyber attacks every hour. For small organisations the worst breaches cost between £65,000 and £115,000 on average and for large organisations the total may run to many millions of pounds. These costs can occur as direct financial losses due to fraud or theft; the loss of productivity due to time spent recovering from the effects of a successful attack; or the loss of trust and reputation.

Phishing

It may be surprising that many cyber security breaches do not result from technical failures. In fact, it is commonplace for attackers to exploit the goodwill and trust of people to gain access to systems, using a form of attack that is known as ‘social engineering’. Pretending to be technical support personnel or crafting emails that ask for usernames and passwords are common forms of social engineering attacks. You may have heard the term ‘phishing’ used to describe these kinds of emails. Phishing is a form of social engineering. In the video, course guide Cory explains how it happened to him.

Phishing emails can use your real details and passwords to make you think that the attacker is a real contact that you already know, or to make you think that they have more information than they actually do to panic you into clicking on a message.

In October 2019 over 30,000 aggressive phishing emails an hour were being sent out to email addresses where a password was known: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-50065713

The criminals get your email address password data and other sensitive information from breaches of many online databases.

In January 2019 Troy Hunt, a security professional, published details of a database being used by criminals that contained 773 million records and over 21 million unique passwords.

To check if your account has been part of a data breach that included your email address visit https://haveibeenpwned.com

To check if a password that you use has also been found in a data breach visit https://haveibeenpwned.com/Passwords

Of interest, check the password 123456789.
How many times has that been seen?!

In a later week in the course you will study how to create secure passwords.

In the next step you’ll find out about three high-profile cyber security breaches.

This article is from the free online

Introduction to Cyber Security

Created by
FutureLearn - Learning For Life

Our purpose is to transform access to education.

We offer a diverse selection of courses from leading universities and cultural institutions from around the world. These are delivered one step at a time, and are accessible on mobile, tablet and desktop, so you can fit learning around your life.

We believe learning should be an enjoyable, social experience, so our courses offer the opportunity to discuss what you’re learning with others as you go, helping you make fresh discoveries and form new ideas.
You can unlock new opportunities with unlimited access to hundreds of online short courses for a year by subscribing to our Unlimited package. Build your knowledge with top universities and organisations.

Learn more about how FutureLearn is transforming access to education