Hackers are in fact simply computer experts that are often viewed as dangerous individuals that use their knowledge in malicious purposes. Even though that is a pretty narrow view, we’re going to refrain from trying to define hackers and we’ll focus solely on cybercriminals, even though not every hacker is a cybercriminal.
We’re fully aware of what hackers are capable of and yet we still often remain powerless against them. They can easily compromise all sorts of digital devices such as computers, smartphones, and tablets by exploiting security weaknesses. These cyberattacks are what we’re interested in the most as they can affect us greatly. The motivation for such attacks is different from person to person but some of the main ones are money, ego, information gathering, or simply protest.
Psychology vs Tech
There are numerous different ways hackers try to gather sensitive information most of which are technical in nature, but it’s not rare for them to use psychology tricks in order to get the user to click on a certain link or attachment, or provide their personal information. They can do all of the work themselves or can get us to do their work for them. Their targets are often businesses, but governments and the general computing public aren’t spared either. They can get our passwords, usernames, credit card information, and shut down websites. Some of the popular hacking techniques include botnets, ransomware, viruses, worms, trojans, rootkits, browser hijacks. ZoneAlarm defines ransomware as a type of malicious software that can prevent you from accessing your documents, databases, and other files. The attackers can often ask for a ransom payment in order to let you access your documents. We put emphasis on this particular type of cyberattack as it’s getting really common and many people are suffering the consequences of these attacks.
Reasons for hacking
The reasons are truly numerous, but they can technically be classified in these four main groups:
- Financial gain. They can go for our credit cards or banking systems in order to collect the prize in the form of money.
- Their ego and the need for building their reputation can be a motivation as strong as the financial gain. They can attack and leave their mark, or signature, as proof.
- Stealing information as a part of corporate espionage. In this case, a company is trying to steal the info from another company.
- The last one is probably also the worst and it is state-sponsored hacking where entire nations actively try to destabilize the infrastructure or steal information from the target country. It’s as scary and serious as it sounds.
As far as you as an individual are concerned, hackers can go for your usernames, passwords, ruin your credit, make purchases, abuse your Social Security number add themselves as authorized users so they can more easily use your credit, or sell your information to other parties who will use it for, in all likelihood, illegal purposes.
There are some ways you can protect yourself. Try updating your OS and other software often enough, download security programs that are up-to-date, don’t keep any personal details on the hardware you’re selling, don’t use open Wi-FI on your router, and don’t trust everything you find in your inbox.