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Computer threats are generally created by computer predators (hackers) whose aim is to persecute others for their personal gain. Once a perpetrator gets access to victim’s PC, he or she installs a malicious code on the user’s system to collect personal information. Hence, stealing, altering, destroying personal information.
But who is that person and why he does that?
All this is done by hacker, usually a skilled computer programmer who finds computer system vulnerability and exploits them for personal gain.
The method he uses is known as hacking, an illegal way of accessing devices, websites to steal personal information that can be used to commit online crimes.
What is Hacking?
Hacking is like scavenger hunt, where hacker needs to collect clues and solve complex logical puzzle hidden in a maze of data and code to get personal and confidential information of the victim.
But why hackers do this?
There is a motive behind each hack performed by hackers, it can be for:
- Data Theft.
- Financial Gain or,
- To gain unfair advantage over competitors.
But what types of hackers do all this?
Hackers can be broadly categorized into three different classes, based on the method and activity they perform:
● White Hat
Hackers who follow set of rules, perform hack by the book, and have full, contractual permission to compromise a system are while hat hackers.
● Black Hat
Name is enough to explain what category of hackers fall under Black hat. Usually hackers involved in illegal activity who hack a system for personal gain fall under this category.
● Grey Hat
Hackers who lie between White Hat and Black hat are Grey Hat hackers. Generally, those who adopt unaccepted ways to access a system are Grey Hat hackers. They don’t have any malicious intent behind anything they do. It’s just that their methods are unacceptable.
Now, that we know who a hacker is, why he hacks into the system. The next step is to know how he finds his target.
How hackers find a target?
Everyone using a computer connected to the Internet is a target. As all connected devices are prone to be attacked by computer hackers and online predators.
Hackers send phishing, spam emails or instant messages to the users and even design bogus websites to deliver dangerous malware. Also, they always look for machines that are not protected by firewall, as they are the easiest target. This means, any machine without a firewall or anti-virus software is a target and anyone who opens a spam mail or downloads malicious attachment is at risk.
Once a target found what does a hacker do to the machine?
Things a hacker can do:
Besides, installing malware, spyware on the connected machine hacker can do following things too:
- Hijacks usernames and passwords, to access bank accounts and to steal money.
- Ruins credits score.
- Can request new account PINs using the details he has stolen.
- Make purchases.
- Add themselves as an authorized user to use your credit.
- Misuse and use your Social Security number.
- Sell stolen details to interested parties, who will then use them for illicit or illegal purposes
Indeed, online predators pose a serious threat and those who think they are safe they are wrong. A simple mistake like downloading attachment from unknown person, meeting a friend online without caution can make you a victim.
How these hacks are performed?
Usually two types of hacks take place around us, zero-day exploits and malicious scripts.
Exploits never seen before, are called zero-day hacks and are the worst and most damaging of all hacks. As no one has ever seen these hacks they cannot detect them and therefore are unable to defend an organization or individual. People behind these hacks are scary smart hackers.
Hacks performed by using a malicious code written by someone to steal data. These hacks are common these days and usually everyone use these scripts to earn money. Running the scripts is not difficult creating one is. The hackers simply need to find target and run the script. With the increasing number of connected devices finding a target has become really simple.
How these script work?
- Hacker sends phishing email to thousands of users with malicious code as an attachment.
- Once the attachment is opened, the malicious code gets installed and hacker can then access all personal information of the victim.
To avoid such hacks from happening one should always run an updated anti-virus on the machine.
Read Also : Essential Tips To Avoid Computer Viruses
Latest Strategies Used By Hackers
Phishing, spam emails, malicious attachments all are old yet effective methods. But with time users have become smart and no longer they fall for such tricks, therefore hackers had to adopt different strategies to trick users.
Here we explain you most common strategies used by hackers to steal your data:
- Phishing scams: Oldest yet most successful method too needs some improvisation. These days instead of sending malicious emails hackers are sending text message with malicious links to access connected devices.
- Malware: usually, hackers send malware to the user as an email attachment, but with time they have found different ways. Now they create fake site or infect genuine sites to fool user into downloading malicious code. Malware is designed to steal data or hijack system to run programs for the personal gain of the fraudsters.
- Ransomware infections and scams: This hack takes place when user visits a site that installs ransomware. Once installed it will lock user out of the system until ransom is paid. Another variation to this scareware. Hackers show a random error message to the user, when he is visiting the website. When he clicks on the error message his machine is infected and to resolve the problem he need to call a number. Once he do so the caller tricks user into giving away his personal information.
- Online advertising: Relatively new method of luring users and infecting the machine. In this hacker sends targeted emails or simply show ads clicking on which infects users machine.
- The internet of things: Most common type of attack, in this connected devices, are the target. Hacker looks for a vulnerability and then exploits it to spread infection. This is possible as proper protection is not taken into consideration while designing them.
How to protect yourself from hackers?
If you think, keeping yourself protected from a hack is impossible, then you are wrong. By keeping some simple things in mind, you can keep yourself protected from hackers:
- Take proper action when a security warning is received.
- Follow all the security instructions given by your IT team.
Apart from this always run an updated anti-virus.
Above we explained some basic pointer. Besides, you should keep following things in mind when online to stay protected from being hacked.
- Always keep a check on all personal accounts, if you see any discrepancy act without any delay.
- Be vigilant when joining a chat room or posting personal stuff online.
- Limit personal information that you post on social media.
- Monitor online request you receive.
- Avoid making personal and financial conversation or sharing such information online.
Security Tips To Prevent Yourself From Being Hacked
- Use 2-way security system (firewall).
- Use updated operating system.
- Keep a check on browser security settings.
- Avoid visiting untrusted websites.
- Download software from trusted sites.
- Avoid downloading free software from untrusted sites and don’t trust any file-sharing application.
Security Tips To Protect Yourself From Being Infected Via Email Virus/Malware
- Don’t open messages from unknown senders.
- Delete messages you suspect to be spam.
- Run updated and best security software.
- Use an antispyware tool to protect your data.
If you keep these small tips in mind you can surely have an upper hand and can secure yourself from being attacked by a hacker.
This is not it, there is more to how to protect yourself from being hacked.
We all know, an unlocked/ unprotected computer is like an open invitation for hackers to access your data. To secure your system and data from being compromised you should use spam filter or should scan each message you receive whether on mail or message. For this can use Systweak Anti-Malware.
above we discussed hackers motive, type, but we never mentioned how hackers break in. here, we will discuss most common mistakes that allows hackers to take control of our systems and how to guard our self from dangerous online threats.
Weak Passwords: 80% of cyber-attacks take place due to this. Mostly people use their name, birth date, pets name to create a password and one password is used for all logins. This means once hacker is able to hack that password all your accounts are compromised.
Tips to stay protected online
- Never use same password for all accounts.
- Password should be at least 20 characters long and words should be gibberish.
- Use special characters: @#$*&
- Use any password manager tool to create random password.
Malware Attacks: when you visit an infected website, use an infected USB drive, or install an application that delivers software to capture keystrokes, passwords, and data, your machine gets infected.
Tips to stay protected
- Always run an updated malware-detection software like Advanced System Protector.
- Keep existing software updated.
Phishing Emails: when you fall for tricks where hacker sends an email that prompt you to enter a password and you do so, thinking it is official or urgent. look genuine but
Tips to stay protected
- Always keep all software, browser updated with latest security patches.
- Don’t open links automatically received in email, copy them and then open to see where they re-direct.
How to protect your computer and laptop from hackers?
- Always keep your antivirus, firewall and operating system up-to-date.
- Install and run an updated antivirus and antispyware software.
- Keeping your devices Bluetooth always enabled is not right. You should always disable such connections when not in use.
How to protect your smartphones from being hacked?
Smartphones are an essential part of our day to day life. They are a digital replica of us. We store all our personal, financial, and confidential data on it. Therefore, we need to protect them at all cost from being hacked. To protect them try to follow the tips mentioned below:
- Create strong PIN or pattern lock: A strong passcode is the best defense to keep your device protected if stolen as it will stop the criminal from accessing the information stored on your phone. Besides, always enable find my device and wipe all the information using this feature to prevent your information from being misused.
- Install applications from trusted sites.
- Keep software up-to-date with all the security patch.
Protecting Online Devices
Internet-connected devices these days are used by all, these devices, connect your home to the Internet and is vulnerable to be attack. Therefore, it is important to protect these devices just like computers and smartphones.
- Check your device and network name: Avoid giving you name to your smartphone or home network. This makes your device more vulnerable to attack, as it becomes easy for the hacker to guess the password and identify the nearby Wi-fi spot and connected device. Give a different name to your device so that it becomes hard of the hacker to identify it.
- Create different passwords for all devices: Always change the default password never, keep it simple. The password should always be unique.
How to protect online accounts?
- Delete suspicious emails
- Use secure devices
- Create strong passwords
- Use multifactor authentication on your accounts
- Be cautious with “Save my information for next time.”
- Sign up for account alerts
Must Read : Cyber Security Tips for Enterprises/Users
What To Do If Your Device Or Online Accounts Is Hacked?
If you suspect that your device or online account is hacked, you need to take following actions at once.
- Disconnect your device and get it checked by a security specialist.
- Change your passwords
- Keep a check on financial accounts
- Inform others
- Look out for other users: Often individuals don’t pay attention to their mailbox unless someone else notices a suspicious activity and inform them that their account is being hacked. If you notice any unusual activity on a person’s email or social media account, it might be that the account is hacked. Avoid responding to any email or messages you receive from such accounts, inform the concerned person, and make them aware about the problem.
Hope by now you are able to understand what a hacker is how he performs hacking and how to protect yourself and connected devices.
Once, you keep all these points in mind you will be able to defend yourself from most common scams.