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Tricks of the hacker

Mary Evans
Tuesday, May 08, 2012

Lately I have received a couple of suspicious emails that seem innocent and from people I know, mostly consisting of quick get rich schemes. Coming from a trusted friend it can seem genuine. But then the same type of message would come from different people on my contact list. So when I confront these people about the emails, fortunately without opening the links, they would say they didn't send such emails. So who did?

There are geniuses who have too much time on their hands, they have decided to hack into people's privacy using the World Wide Web and unfortunately some of those on my mailing list are victims.

Through this, the hackers have managed to do a lot of damage both on a small and big scale.

On one occasion, the world's largest credit card payments processor recently got hacked. Over 1.5 million cards from Visa and MasterCard were digitally stolen through a cyber attack. This is just the latest in a series of brazen attacks on some of America's largest and most secure companies.

Or on a smaller scale, private pictures or videos have been displayed publicly without the owner of these pictures or videos ever knowing how.

Besides stealing and exposing individual privacy, some hackers have bigger plans in mind, Terrorist attacks! How? By hacking or hijacking computer networks of their enemies to steal secret information that could contribute to war, like weapon blueprints, operational plans and significant surveillance data.

They also at times, sabotage equipment used to control computer networks. This can be very destructive since the 21st century is so reliant on computer controlled facilities.

According to Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development, one in three online computers is remotely controlled by a hacker and not the owner of the device or email address. An alarming find, making the emailing facility very unreliable.

How does this hacking happen? Well, a hacker uses a few devices. I found the common ones on ehowteck.com.

One is using Virus; this is the most popular one in the 21st century. This form of hacking works by injecting a few specialised lines of code into an otherwise harmless executable file.

The infected file is then made available for download on the Internet, and the downloader's gadget subsequently become infected with the virus.

As web technology advanced, some hackers discovered an internet security flaw that allowed them to install the malicious program directly onto a user's computer when the user simply visited a certain website.

By exploiting security holes in web browsers such as Internet Explorer or Firefox, the program could be quietly downloaded and installed in the background. Once the program infects the machine, the hacker can easily access the machine, take over the machine, or use the infected computer to send bulk advertising (spam) without fear of punishment.

According to ehowteck.com, another is through Unsecure Wireless Network; Hackers exploit this lack of security by simply scouting around for open, unsecured wireless connections.

Once the hacker is connected to the unsecured network, he has a direct connection to any other computer on that network and needs to bypass only very basic security in order to access sensitive data.

And lastly, the hacker can use a brute-force attack, by simply guessing passwords; this is the oldest hacking scheme. Repeatedly entering commonly used passwords such as birth dates and pet names can become very tedious, so some hackers employ automatic scripts known as robots, or bots for short to continually attempt access to a restricted machine, says ehowteck.com.

According to ehowteck.com, these bots can be programmed with tens of thousands of dictionary words and variations thereof, raising the odds that a hacker will eventually gain access. But fortunately modern computer systems and networks attempt to combat this form of attack by denying access and disabling accounts after a specified number of incorrect login attempts.

So if you have noticed the IT guys in your firm getting strict with internet or device access, it's because of safety.

Prevention is better than cure and to prevent a whole institute from crashing to the ground because money has been stolen by hackers or significant information is in the wrong hands, IT security has probably doubled its strength.

The reputation of a company could be tainted if it has just once been known to be hacked, no one would want to invest or share information with a company that's easily hacked, it would be a risky and an unwise move.

To counter this problem, according to Forbes, the world's largest search engine Google, has been offering up rewards to security researchers and friendly hackers to find flaws or bugs in its programming for a while.

There have been several people that have collected rewards for finding these bugs by notifying Google rather than trying to exploit the issues. Google has now announced that it has increased the available rewards for reporting bugs to as much as $20,000 per bug.

Through this contest, hackers were able to exploit Google chrome, one of the much used devices.

So the next time you see a suspicious email with a link, delete it immediately, this is how a hacker tricks us into installing a virus into our computers and thus able to hack everyone in our mailing list if they fall for the trap.

Also try to stick to the old downloading software from a disk, it's safer, rather than the free ones online, it's all part of the hacker's device.

It's all too well to try and stay off the internet, but we know it's quite vital for information and communication and work through emailing, research, social networking and so forth. So, if there is a solution to most problems, there is a solution to hackers. I have listed them.

This is what we only see in movies at one time - where the computer nerd ruled the world by just frantically typing away at their keyboards.

Well, its part of the real world now and we need to wise up and take actions to prevent hackers from stealing our lives.

Advancement has its disadvantages and one of them is swords and frontal attacks are not necessary anymore, this can be done easily through the tip of the fingers, literally!

So cyber-wise-up and beware!

Noteworthy tips from ehow.com:

HTTP is an acronym for hypertext transfer protocol

This is the method used to communicate between browsers and servers on the internet. Every now and again you will notice an S on the end of HTTP. If you haven't seen it before you should look out for it next time you are on a website. This means there is a need for you to enter personal information. The extra S stands for "Secure Sockets Layer" and is a form of encryption that protects personal information like your credit card numbers and passwords from online thieves.

I would suggest that whenever you are required to give sensitive information you check the browser to make sure you see HTTPS!

Install and Update

Whether it is top of the line antivirus software or the free version available online, ensure you have some form of protection. Install antivirus software as soon as you use your computer for the first time. Just as important is installing the necessary and regular updates each antivirus provider will supply. Because this process is so important to computer users, it can also be used as a cover for hackers. Rather than click on pop-ups to install or update your antivirus software, visit the official website or purchase it from a reputable retailer.

Email Attachments and Downloads

Avoid downloads from sites you don't know and trust. As harmless and innocent as some audio or video downloads may seem, if you don't trust the source, leave it alone.

If you are not 100 per cent certain of the authenticity of the source, leave it alone. For the sake of one downloaded file you could end up spending a lot of money figuring out that you have lost all the information, photos, music and documents on your computer. Never open or download an attachment on an email that is sent from someone you don't know. Also be very careful about opening attachments of forwarded emails. Friends and family could have unwittingly forwarded a threat-containing email.

Switch It Off

An excellent way to protect your computer from hackers is to switch it off. This means whenever your computer is not in use do not leave it on.

Even with advanced firewalls and antivirus software, there is still some degree of risk. When your computer is off no hacker can access it or use it for hacking another computer. It might be convenient to always have your computer on stand-by and ready to go, but by switching it off when not in use you are protecting your computer, and probably saving money on your power bill too.

Pay Attention

Pay close attention to the URLs of websites you visit frequently. Access such websites by typing in their URL addresses rather than going through your favourites list.

If your favourites list has been hacked and altered, you could end up visiting a site designed to appear like the one you intend to visit and providing your log-in information. Small variations such as different fonts, a slight difference in the URL address, different logos, etc should raise red flags.

Basic precaution:

Frequently change your passwords, include numbers, symbols and letters in your passwords. Also do not be generous





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