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With an infrastructure as big as the worldwide Internet, more and more new hacking techniques arise daily. Here is a list of threats you should guard against.
Many people think that hacking is only a problem large companies like Target or Neiman Marcus have. But, the truth is that individuals and small businesses get hacked all of the time. Hackers don’t discriminate if there is money to be had. Below are a just a few samples of what can happen to any of us, corporate or individual:
- Email. Almost everyone has email. This is one of the most common technologies used for identity theft purposes. People transmit and receive viruses via email daily. Computers become infected with viruses that install malware, and the infected computers start spitting out thousands of emails throughout the world. These emails frequently send out emails containing all the email addresses in your contacts folder. Did you ever wonder how those spammers got your email address? Email is one of the most common ways for an attacker to gain access to your private information.
- Pre-Attacks. Network administrators need watch out for “pre-attacks” and hack attacks. Pre-attacks are small or sometimes large hacking attempts that hackers do to start learning more about your system. They perform these pre-attacks over a period of weeks or even months. Network administrators need to stop pre-attacks. Major hacks require a lot of planning and information and usually do not come about all of a sudden, unless you have a weak password such as “1234”.
- DDOS and DOS Attacks. Many hackers use DDOS and DOS attacks. These are called Distributed Denial Of Service or simply Denial Of Service attacks. These attacks are meant to overload your network causing your server or firewall to malfunction and at the same time provide an opening for the hackers to enter your network. These need to be stopped immediately.
- Dictionary Attacks. Many hackers also use dictionary attacks whereby the hacker’s computer tries different combinations of letters, symbols, and numbers to gain access to the network or PC user’s user id and password. These attacks can take months before they are successful, but the hackers have time and the computer or computers are doing all of the work anyway.
- Wireless Routers. We all love our adorable wireless routers. We use them on our smart phones, tablets, laptops, PC, smart TVs, etc. but did you know that while you are relaxing and using this great feature, your next door neighbor or some fellow in a car outside with a laptop can be monitoring all of the information being sent across your wireless network? They can even see your most private information and your identity can be stolen in an instant.
- Computers in Cars. Everyone knows that all airplanes have black boxes, but did you know that some cars now come with black boxes that can tell how fast you were going at the moment of impact, or how fast you accelerate from the stop sign? Some insurance companies even provide you with a device that you can put in your car that will tell them about your driving habits. This information is then used to determine your insurance rates.
- Web Cams. I love seeing my grandchildren via SKYPE using the latest web cam technology. It is great technology and more and more of us are using it, but take note that these web cams can also be hacked and hijacked. So be wary and turn off your web cams when not in use. This includes web cams on your laptop, PC, home TV’S and smart phones unless you want your precious moments posted on the Internet.
- Wireless Baby Monitors. In the good old days a baby would just cry, and someone, usually mommy or daddy, would pop in and take care of business. Nowadays, the modern baby does not even have to cry very loud or make much of a sound. Wireless cameras and speakers will monitor the infant and display and play the information on a display station downstairs. Now remember, this is wireless. Where else do you think the wireless information is being transmitted? That’s right – all over your neighborhood. Now people can monitor your wireless transmissions and see if you are home or who is home and they can hear it too. Find a baby monitor that encrypts the wireless transmission.
- USB Sticks. This is a simple but necessary statement. Do not lose your USB sticks. They can contain some precious information. Encrypt your USB stick in case it falls into the wrong hands or is lost.
- USB Sticks (there’s more). On another note regarding USB sticks, if you run an environment that houses sensitive data, do not allow personnel to enter with USB sticks. It is possible that Mr. Snowden walked out of his NSA cubicle with all of the data he took on a USB stick.
- Smart Phones. The ubiquitous smart phones are the darling of many hackers. It has gotten so bad in some parts of the world that people are simply snatching the smart phones from the hands of the smart phone owner. Besides the resale value of the phone, another reason the hackers want your smart phone is for the information on it such as your user id and password to your charge cards, bank accounts, home alarms, and a list of all of your contacts. Smart phones are smart but you should be too. Put a password on the phone.
- Viruses. We all know what viruses are and what they can do. But did you know that they can come to you in pictures, Word documents, PDF’s, GIF’s ZIP files, and spam email? They can come to you in anything that can be emailed to you. Be careful when you open that email. It may come with malware that can relieve you of your hard earned money and a considerable amount of additional information.
- GPS. Do you use GPS on your phone? Be care of that as well. Burglars and robbers can access that information to tell if you are home and use that opportunity.
- Public Wifi Networks. We all use public wireless networks from time to time at coffee shops, restaurants, etc., but did you know that hackers also monitor those public networks? It is great that the pubic wireless networks are free, but do not use them to transmit personal information. Hackers love to camp on these networks looking for gold nugget of private information.
- The Government. Thanks to Mr. Snowden we are now all sure that Big Brother is watching us, and he is watching everything – more than you would want a stranger to know. Take time to read http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Utah_Data_Center and also know that what the NSA can do, so can others. The NSA has now been found to modify new computers and electronic gear for one specific purpose: to provide sensitive and secret data to the NSA.
- Cordless Phones. Although most of you now know that your home wireless/cordless phone conversations can be picked up by a very inexpensive police scanner, it is worth mentioning again. So be careful here, too. This can not only be embarrassing, but expensive as well since you may be recounting private information!
- Low End Security Systems. Low end home security systems are also on the radar for hackers. These low end home security systems that transmit your home security information (video, sound, lock control, garage door control, etc.) can also be hacked. Be sure to choose a company and a service that cannot be hacked!
- Data Backups. Last but not least, although not directly a security issue, be sure to back up your data. Then encrypt it with the strongest encryption that you can find, and transfer the backups to a different location, separate and apart from your computers. And, of course, don’t lose the password to the backup.
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