Hackers are out there. The term black hat is used to describe a malicious hacker, as opposed to white hat which would describe a cyber security specialist. With the rise in threat vectors proliferating in the environment, corporations, banks and retail outlets online need to be careful to ensure their sites are secure.
There are many ways hackers can get in and target everyday people, be it through social engineering or targeted attacks. Some attacks are specific to individuals, others are more blasts hoping to role in innocent people and make them vulnerable to identity theft or other threats. Even with the high threat level, there are certain practices users can do when online to help protect them from some of these intrusions. Lets look at a few things you can do to protect yourself.
Social media is all pervasive these days and some people have multiple accounts on different platforms. To ensure you keep sensitive information off these sites, reveal the least amount of information, post to friends only and be careful who you friend. Social media sites can be hacked and some are prone to viruses. If you don’t know a person think carefully before accepting them as a friend. Also keep passwords for social media accounts secure and don’t share them, use strong passwords.
For other sites that hold more sensitive information ensure you us a unique username and password for these sites, which could include financial sites. Don’t share the same password across sites. Use a password that is 8 or more characters long with special symbols, numbers, letters and no repeating characters. Also use a combination of upper and lowercase letters.
If you are looking for a job through social media sites that are set up or career networking be careful what information you expose. Some of these sites allow anyone to see your information. A hacker can find out a lot about where you work, your skillset and employment status using tool hackers have access to that crawl the web. These sites are also useful for hackers who use elicitation a form of social engineering for information gathering to track a target. Sometimes hackers target people in certain positions to find ways to infiltrate companies, or gain proprietary information.
For email, phishing is an easy way to target unsuspecting people. These emails might try to get you to click on a link that will download a virus to your system. Sometimes phishing can be used to gain information and send people to malicious websites that look close to legitimate websites and will persuade the person to enter sensitive information that hackers can use to target you or gain access to your accounts. Always be wary about clicking on links in email if you do not know the sender. Look at the sender’s address as it is easy to spoof an email address. Spam domain blocker tools also exist that can block whole domains. Most email hosts have a form of these tools to help protect you.
Virus scanning systems that protect from viruses are also good tools to employ. Keep the scanning software up to date to receive the latest patches These tools can also scan your system and block malicious websites. It is also good to have a strong firewall.
Again some of these practices rely on the human equations. If you don’t know if something looks legitimate be wary.
Media sharing sites are notorious for having malicious code. If you will be using these sites ensure your virus scanning software is up to date to block sites that are trying to steal your information or download viruses.
Your internet connection can also be targeted. Be careful about using public WIFI and only use trusted connections. Your coffee shop’s WIFI may be free but there might be hackers in the vicinity with similar WIFI connections that will steal your information if you connect to them. If you have a mobile hotspot for Internet connectivity ensure it has a strong password. Hackers can hack into these connections and do. Hackers use key stroke logging systems that can log your keystrokes once in or infected and can easily get your information.
As we see in the sci fi grydscaen series which focuses on hackers, the characters use various tools to target individuals and corporations. The hackers will use social engineering to gain access to a target’s information or access to an office or lab’s systems. The next book in the series will be released in September 2014 and focuses on social engineering, intrusion, infiltration and selling data.
These are some things you can do to protect yourself from hackers. The information discussed are some simple tools that can help keep your system secure. It is always good to be on guard when online. If you use social media be careful what you share. Know your environment, hackers are out there and will use multiple means to target and try to gain access to your information. Knowing how to protect yourself can go a long way.
Natsuya Uesugi is a systems analyst and has worked in the design of aerospace, semiconductor and financial systems. He has worked for multiple large Fortune 500 technology companies as a systems tester securing systems and writing security requirements. With a Master’s Degree in International Management and certifications in project management, software development, testing and systems analysis, Natsuya knows his way around computers. Having worked as a software engineer and quality assurance tester, Natsuya has over 15 years experience in software development, cyber security and ethical hacking.