Hackers have found many ingenious ways to endanger your personal information. Here is a quick guide to some of the most common methods used.
Malware And Spyware
Malware and spyware are commonly used to harvest card details. One of the most commonly used kinds of spyware is known as a ‘keylogger’. Keyloggers track all of the inputs that are being made into a machine and then send that information to the malicious actor behind their creation. Be very careful when downloading things from the internet, and make sure to scan any downloads for malicious software.
Phishing is a simple and effective way for hackers to steal important information. Phishing is extremely common. It even had a hand to play in the 2016 US presidential election: Russian backed hackers phished the Democratic party and leaked sensitive information. This information helped to discredit the democratic candidate ahead of the election – influencing voters.
Phishing is far more common as a method of stealing credit card details than it is as a method of political manipulation. Phishing involves the sending of a seemingly official email with a link or attachment included. When the victim opens this link or attachment, they are prompted to input their sensitive information – believing it to be from their bank or service provider. This information is then used to steal from the victim of the attack. Hackers use phishing attacks because they can be carried out en-mass in order to harvest lots of data. It is often the most vulnerable and least computer savvy in society that fall victim to these kinds of attack.
Public wireless internet networks are notoriously easy to exploit for hackers looking to steal valuable information such as credit card details. The encryption used as part of most public wireless networks is highly vulnerable to hackers that use ‘man in the middle’ tactics. These tactics involve a hacker positioning themselves ‘between’ a wireless network and its users. This enables them to intercept important data when it is in transit. Because public wireless networks have either no password or a readily available one, hackers usually have no trouble in spoofing them. The only way to safely use a public wireless network is to use a VPN. VPNs – Virtual Private Networks – encrypt all data in transit and reroute it using a remote server that obscures user IP addresses. If you are going to be doing any online shopping using public Wi-Fi networks, download VPN or a similar encryption tool.
Companies routinely suffer data breaches that release sensitive information onto the internet for any hopeful malicious actor to harvest. These data breaches quite rightly bring the victim organization into disrepute with customers concerned that they are being left vulnerable by companies that do not look after their data correctly.
Skimming is one of the more traditional methods of stealing bank account information. Skimmers physically observe people putting their pin numbers into machines or use radio frequency skimming technology to harvest information from contactless transactions.