Among the questions I hear all of that time period is “that are these hackers, and why are they targeting me?” Most people erroneously believe that hackers poorly behave super-smart kids–geeks that get a stop out of manipulating the device and causing mischief. They envision poorly supervised teenagers sitting around a pc trying this and that until they crack in to a system. Most of us remember the movie “War Games” where Matthew Broderick plays a lovable, super-smart senior school student who hacks in to the school’s computers to control his grades, and who accidentally hacks in to the Defense Department’s war games computer and nearly starts a nuclear war.
Today, hacking is no further kid’s stuff, but a multi-billion dollar industry that spans the globe. Some experts believe that as much as 25% of all computers are infected by hacker’s software. Visualize a robot. Mindless, emotionless, silent unless it comes to life. A large element of what hackers do is to turn your computer in to a robot. The tech name for this is a BOT-network, actually. Suppose you carry on the Internet and download something–perhaps a song, some freeware, a game–you won’t ever realize that download is infected. Once you click download, you not merely get your music, however the download will install hidden software deep inside your computer that will turn your computer in to a robot. This software is named a virus, a worm, spy ware, malware, or a Trojan horse. The hackers gather tens and thousands of bot computers in to a bot network, and these computers are accustomed to send infected files to tens and thousands of other computers. If the attack is caught and traced, it is traced to you, not to the hacker. There are always a few symptoms that the computer is a BOT–mainly so it slows down since the hacker is making use of your resources, but often you obtain pop-ups, and the computer starts performing unusually and locking up. The ISP (Internet Service Provider) will catch this, and power down your Internet connection. We have people come in our business all of that time period that are incensed because their ISP has shut them down for sending spam. They are always understandably upset, and don’t understand until we explain to them that they have been hacked. Even as we fix their computer, the ISP will hook them back up. Don’t worry, the Internet Police are definitely not going to exhibit up at your door and arrest you for sending spam, everyone knows what’s going on here, but your computer MUST be cleaned up before it is put back on the Internet. Your computer will be used to steal identities, and rob people–by a person who may be on the other side of the planet! You will find actually businesses who sell time on the bot-nets, for criminals to send their malicious software to tens and thousands of unsuspecting computers! This leads me to the next type of hacker–the phisher.
The key goal of hackers is always to gather information to steal money. Phishing is pronounced fishing–and it is exactly the same thing–fishing for information How to recover your stolen bitcoin. The phishers have a variety of ways to steal your information, which require YOUR action–clicking on something. A principal way for phishers to gather your banking information is always to send you an email (through a bot-network) that informs you that the banking information needs updating, and that the account has been frozen and soon you resolve this. You may have gotten this kind of email, it may be confusing because it is not from your bank. These guys realize that on the list of tens and thousands of phishing emails which are sent, some of the recipients is going to be customers of that bank. According to the FBI, as much as 3% of the recipients of those phishing emails actually input their bank passwords and pins. With one click, their identity is stolen, and their bank-account drained.
Another type of phishing works such as the bot-network, you download a file, and get hidden software installed deep in your computer, hidden from view. This sort of software is named a Key logger. This creepy software allows the hackers to see all you type-and remotely see, and go through your computer files. The target is to locate passwords, credit card numbers, names, addresses, social security numbers, email passwords–in other words, your identity. Once you log onto your bank-account, or type in your credit card number, it can be as though the hacker is overlooking your shoulder. These identities are gathered and sold on websites to criminals who’ll steal your identity and rob you. They are sold in groups–like complete identities (including name, address, passwords, credit cards, and mother’s maiden name), partial identities, or just credit card numbers. Sometimes these creeps even have buy-one-get-one-free sales of people’s identities! The FBI has a whole department that monitors these websites, and works diligently to catch the cyber-crooks. However, most of them come in places in the world where extradition to the US for prosecution is complicated, often Russia or Nigeria.
I don’t mean to provide you with the impression that you are helpless in this, and that you should never use your computer again! You will find ways to out-smart them. First, if you haven’t read my articles about hackers and cyber-intrusions, read them. However, I’m finding that one of the greatest new tools to combat key loggers is software where you enter your log-ins and passwords (and credit card numbers), and if you want to log in or enter your passwords, pins, credit card numbers, name, address–anything which can be stolen from you, the software automatically enters it in a encrypted format. There is a constant type this in your keyboard so the keys can’t be captured, and if the criminals could see your computer, what they see is encrypted. We also recommend that enough time has come to produce your passwords tough to crack–long, a mix of numbers and letters, unpredictable. For instance, your first grade teacher’s name followed by a number combination followed by the name of a river you know. I am aware that is hard, however it is important to own unpredictable and long passwords as part of your cyber-safety routine.
This dilemma is not going away, in fact it is slated to have worse. Hackers are not only targeting individuals, but governments, banks, and large companies. So strap in your cyber-pistols and meet those creeps independently turf–knowledge!