The Internet has created so many opportunities, allowing individuals, companies, and corporations to enhance personal and professional objectives. How many times have you filled out your personal information? What kind of personal data is floating around the Internet?
We tend to trust credible sites and servers, but there are most certainly some hacking threats out there. It’s no secret that a number of businesses have been hacked online – could it happen to you? Unfortunately, Internet security isn’t always as secure as we think. How do they do it? How do hackers access such sensitive information?
The Top 22 Tricks and Scams Used by Hackers
The following tricks and scams are exactly how – be more aware so that you can protect yourself.
- Personal emails
We’ve all received them – strange emails that are full of spelling errors and strange requests. They tend to go straight into the trash because it’s obvious that something isn’t right. Although these types of emails still trickle in, hackers have perfected their craft.
Personal emails are being sent to users, that appear to be real. They may use your professional title or even mention a specific project that you’re working on. This little trick makes an email seem more legit, but in reality, they’re trying to access your data or financial information. If you do not know the individual and something seems out of the ordinary, avoid opening any links or attachments.
- Surprise attacks
There are a number of cyberattacks occurring via downloads. In many cases, individuals are surfing the Internet, to find that they’re re-directed to another site. This is when an attack can occur, compromising your information. Often site owners do not even realize that their own site has been compromised. Stay on top of all browser updates – Internet Explorer users tend to be the most vulnerable.
- Time is on their side
When aiming to crack passwords and codes, hackers no longer need to manually test possible combinations. There are programs that systematically test all possibilities – allowing hackers to step away in order to work on something else. To protect yourself, ensure that you create strong passwords that include a combination of numbers, letters, and special characters.
- Free Wi-Fi
Although free Internet at the coffee shop is convenient, it can also be dangerous. Even if a public network appears to be legit, hackers can snoop as you surf. Unsecured networks are especially prone to attacks, so do not complete any financial transactions on these hotspots.
- Hack other devices
We tend to associate our computers with hacker attacks, but the truth is, anything with an Internet connection can be hacked. From your smartphone to your smart TV – hackers can essentially infiltrate your personal life. To be safe, change your password every few months and keep up with firmware updates.
- The use of shocking videos
No matter what the context, shocking videos always tend to go viral. We’re curious beings and can’t help but see for ourselves. Hackers prey on this curiosity, offering ‘shocking videos’ that require you to download a media player or complete a survey, which then installs malware. It’s always beneficial to look up the video on Google, odds are, someone else has already reported it if it’s a scam.
- Take advantage of your typos
When typing in well-known sites, a slight typo could put you at risk. Hackers often create sites that display a slightly altered URL that mimics a popular site or platform – these fake sites then steal your information. Before you login to any site, ensure that you have the correct URL, as these fake sites can be very misleading.
- Use easy sites to access email
Many individuals use the same email and password for everything – placing them at risk. If you signed up on a random forum, it could be a site that’s easy to hack. Once a hacker has your email and password, they can then try inputting that information into your email account. Once they’re into your email account, it’s easier to access bank information.
If you leave your Bluetooth enabled, hackers can actually connect to your phone and steal your data. After you’re finished using your Bluetooth, turn it off. When you pair with another device, require a password – you want to make it as difficult for hackers as possible.
- WEP encryption
Some older routers still use WEP (Wired Equivalent Privacy) encryption. These can be easily cracked with downloadable software. If your router doesn’t use at least WPA (Wi-Fi Protected Access), look into getting a new router or at least do a firmware update. Always change your preset Wi-Fi password as well.
- Charge small amounts
Once financial information is stolen, hackers will often test out the card number to see if anyone notices. In order to so, they charge small amounts – $5 or $10 is all it takes. This is why it’s important to review your statements each month to ensure that nothing is out of the ordinary.
- Use credible companies to access your info
Impersonating trustworthy companies are another way in which hackers access sensitive information. They may send you a fake bank notice or a fake order confirmation through a company. If any company asks you for you information outright, do not hesitate to call the company to inquire.
- Automatic Wi-Fi connections
Do you travel with your laptop? Perhaps your Wi-Fi is always turned on when traveling with your smartphone. If so, you may be connecting to automatic networks which make it easier for hackers to access your info. Get into the habit of turning off Wi-Fi when you leave home.
- Fake apps
There are fake versions of popular apps that are downloaded, then used to bypass security. You may download a free app, only to find that you’ve been charged for a premium service. To be safe, only download apps from official markets, such as Google Play or Apple.
- Hack ATM machines
When accessing your funds from an ATM machine, hackers can steal your card information. Cameras can be installed, while ‘skimmers’ capture your PIN. When withdrawing funds, go to the ATM machines within your bank, not one’s that are open to the public 24-7 – as these are often the machines and systems that are tampered with.
- Fake software updates
When you receive updates for your software programs, you assume that the program requires a little boost. The truth is, hackers can create fake updates that place backdoor programs onto your computer. If you are sent a pop-up for instance, go directly to the software provider’s website to see if the update is legit.
- Online shopping
When shopping online, it’s recommended that you check out as a guest whenever possible. If a hacker gets a hold of your information, they can sell it on the black market. In turn, fake cards are made using your information – allowing others to shop from your account. Also, only shop from sites that are secure and trusted.
- Online applications
When you apply for a credit card online, all your information, including your Social Security number is put out there. If you are in the market for a new credit card, go directly to your bank or the card provider.
- Debit cards are easier to access
If you pay for anything online using debit, hackers have a much easier time accessing your bank details. If possible, use credit and take all the right security steps. Whenever you’re asked if the site would like to ‘remember’ your info, opt out.
- Keyword strokes
Hackers can use malware to record your keystrokes – based on that data, they can then use your account and password information. If your computer is displaying abnormal behavior – showing excessive pop-ups or unexplained sluggish performance, for instance, install an anti-virus program. There’s also software to remove suspected malware.
- Buffer overflow
Used by sophisticated hackers, buffer overflow is when a hacker gains access to data via online forms. Basically, security techniques can be fooled when a large amount of data is typed into an unexpected entry point. Using complex codes, they can often steal data or cause damage to the site.
- Social media
Revealing too much on social media, could essentially place you at risk. Whether you announce your birthday or first pet’s name, hackers can use this data to access your accounts more easily. This is also why it’s recommended that you do not use personal information for passwords.
IT Security Office. Hackers. Duke University. Retrieved on January 20th, from https://security.duke.edu/internet-safety/hackers
My Digital Shield. (2015). 5 Ways Hackers Gain Access to Your Data. Retrieved on January 20th, from http://www.mydigitalshield.com/5-ways-hackers-gain-access-data/