Hacking; how bad is it?
Definition of hacking
Hacking is defined as an unauthorized intrusion into a network or computer. The purpose of that may be to corrupt data, steal data, gather private information, disrupt systems activity, etc.
Types of hackers
There are three fundamental types of hackers.
Black hat hacking
A black-hat hacker gains unauthorized entry into a system or network to exploit them for malicious reasons, e.g., for financial gain or access to sensitive personal data. These hackers are called black hat hackers because, in western movies, the bad guys often wear black hats.
White hat hacking
So-called ethical hackers do white hat hacking. They usually work for an organization, and their job is to test the level of security of the systems and identify the flaws to improve the security. Unlike Black hat hackers, white hat hackers are legally permitted to hack for such purposes.
Grey hat hacking
Grey hat hackers are the intermediate between bad and good guys. They hack like Black hat hackers but not for malicious reasons. They usually do it to inform the administrators or the intelligence agencies about the vulnerabilities in the system or any illegal activities that might be going on.
Forms of hacking
With phishing and malware, hackers make people believe they are a trusted source, so people share their personal information. Hackers then access your usernames, passwords, and other personal data. With your data in hand, hackers can access your accounts and use your data for various illegal activities. Phishing involves the use of fraudulent emails appearing to be from a trusted source. Beware of emails that
- Request personal information
- Contain suspicious links
- Lack of customized information (i.e., no account #)
- Use emotional language encouraging you to act quickly
In addition to phishing and malware, hackers also take advantage of individuals and businesses via a technique called social engineering. The hackers attempt to get the victims to release personal information by psychological manipulation. In addition, hackers try to build trust with their victims before taking advantage of them.
Not all hackers attempt to trick you. For example, Brute Force is a type of hacking that utilizes tools to guess your credentials.
What makes your data vulnerable to hacking?
Vulnerabilities can be classified in many ways but generally fall into four broad categories:
- Network Vulnerabilities
- OS Vulnerabilities
- Process Vulnerabilities
- Human Vulnerabilities
From the hardware and software on our networks, backdoor programs in the operating system, weak passwords, and user errors can leave your data vulnerable to hackers. For example, our smartphones are highly susceptible to hacking, especially the ‘jailbroken’ phones, which have their restrictions removed from OS and allow downloading applications from unknown sources. Another common target of hackers is routers. With access to your router, hackers manipulate data entering and leaving the router, which can then be used for DDoS and DNS attacks. Webcams are also commonly targeted; hackers use rootkit malware and can spy on the person and even take pictures. Using the same password for multiple accounts makes it easier for hackers to access accounts. Moreover, the lack of antivirus and firewalls makes a device extremely vulnerable to hacking.
Steps for prevention
You can proactively take several steps to thwart hackers, and most do not require you to have a degree in programming. Listed below are a few suggestions to keep you and your data safe:
- Keeping your device’s software up to date
- Use complex passwords and frequently change your passwords
- Utilize Antimalware and Antivirus software
- Delete suspicious emails
- Use some form of encryption
- Use multi-factor authentication
- Avoid using public Wi-Fi unless you have a VPN
Taking the necessary precautions is a must to protect your personal and professional data. Be proactive by securing your network and all the devices connected to it. Be safe out there!!!