Internet outages are more than just a modest inconvenience nowadays. So much critical business is conducted online that whenever it's inaccessible it can be catastrophic. That's why many people were panicked after Monday's nationwide outages were reported.
Now, users are reporting outages with a popular video chat service. Are hackers to blame? Is your personal information safe?
Hackers could be responsible for Skype outage
Millions of people around the world are reporting problems using the popular video chat service Skype. The issues began around the same time mobile users reported internet outages. However, a link between Monday's outages and Skype's issues has yet to be established.
Skype users are having connectivity problems. Some are having problems connecting to the service and others are unable to send or receive messages. Skype Support sent a message on Twitter Monday confirming the problems:
There is an ongoing incident affecting the ability to connect to the application: https://t.co/E2jdK7oUf2 We are investigating, stay tuned!
— Skype Support (@SkypeSupport) June 19, 2017
The scary thing is, hackers could be behind these issues. The Daily Mail is reporting that a group of cybercriminals dubbed "Cyber Team," is claiming responsibility for Skype's outages. This could be a DDoS attack, like the one that shut down popular sites like Amazon and Netflix last October.
DDoS attacks occur when servers are overwhelmed with more traffic than they can handle. These types of attacks are performed with a botnet.
A botnet is a group of gadgets that hackers have taken over without the owner's knowledge. The hackers seize control of unwitting gadgets with a virus or malware and then use the network of infected computers to perform large-scale hacks or scams.
Microsoft owns Skype and has not verified that hackers are behind the connectivity issues. We'll have to wait for further details.
Skype Support is saying that the connectivity issues have been resolved. However, they also said this on Monday and the problems persisted. There could be more to come.
In the meantime, you need to keep your gadgets protected from cybercriminals. For hackers to create a botnet, they need to have behind-the-scenes control of the victim's gadget. This is typically done by installing malware through a phishing attack.
How to protect against phishing attacks:
- Be cautious with links - If you get an email or notification that you find suspicious, don't click on its links. It could be a phishing attack. It's always better to type a website's address directly into a browser than clicking on a link.
- Watch for typos - Phishing scams are infamous for having typos. If you receive an email or notification from a reputable company, it should not contain typos. Take our phishing IQ test to see if you can spot a fake email.
- Use unique passwords - Many people use the same password for multiple websites. This is a terrible mistake. If your credentials are stolen on one site and you use the same username and/or password on others, it's simple for the cybercriminal to get into each account. Click here to find out how to create hack-proof passwords.
- Set up two-factor authentication - Two-factor authentication, also known as two-step verification, means that to log in to your account, you need two ways to prove you are who you say you are. It's like the DMV or bank asking for two forms of ID. Click here to learn how to set up two-factor authentication.
- Check your online accounts - The site Have I Been Pwned allows you to check if your email address has been compromised in a data breach.
- Have strong security software - Having strong protection on your family's gadgets is very important. The best defense against digital threats is strong security software.