You know it’s not as simple as just logging on to the internet and surfing from one site to the next.
Your best bet is to turn off Wi-Fi when you’re not using it, harden your devices, and avoid suspicious websites like the plague. It would help if you kept in mind some things to get instant security upgrade for your current Wi-Fi access point.
It is always better to have internet security and control than not to have any protection. But despite all of this prudent advice, there are still some nasty hacks that can leave you shaken with fear and eating a bag of Cheetos in bed.
If you’re worried about your online presence or security levels, allow these cautionary tales to help reassure you that all may not be lost.
- The Chromebook Wi-Fi Hack That Threw A University Out Of Business
- The Mouse Click Hack That Shut Down The Washington Secret Service
- The Ghost On your Network Hack
- The “Poor Man’s Botnet” Hack That Infected Thousands Of Routers And Boxes Around The World
- The Browser That Hacks You Hack
- What should we be wary of?
- How can Wi-Fi users protect themselves?
- What else?
It all started when one student at the New Jersey Institute of Technology (NJIT) noticed that his Chromebook was unusually slow. Then, he had an idea.
While using a wireless internet connection, he opened up a fake website in Chrome and waited for the page to load and copy it to the cloud before locking his device.
He would then open another tab on his computer and see the same webpage upon visiting it from another machine or place – this time without the fake website.
While this isn’t the most sophisticated hack, it explains why some Chromebooks are so slow.
This guy had plenty of time to allow his malware to load and be stored on the device before he locked it up, but even after two weeks of data collection and analysis, the NJIT student was still stuck with a $300 bill for a hacked Chromebook.
Investigators are still looking for who perpetrated this hack, but what is known is that someone broke into a computer at the Washington D.C. headquarters of the Secret Service and infiltrated their network by disabling security firewalls to install malicious software on their mainframe.
Since the agency has a strict policy of not giving out laptops to its agents, they had no way to recover their files or replace the computer.
And since this wasn’t just any computer, but one that manages thousands of agents’ sensitive information, it was a natural and immediate threat.
Auditors at The University of Michigan discovered that one of their student’s computers was infected with malware that made his hard drive appear clean when forensic technicians examined it but held thousands of secret files which outsiders over the network siphoned off.
The ghost on your network is particularly troubling since it can compromise your network without anyone ever knowing it exists.
Don’t be fooled by the name. A botnet is not just for computers. If you own a smart TV or digital camera, you may also have a botnet of your own – but you might not know it until it’s too late.
In this hack, the malware was installed on users’ devices through an update for a popular messaging app called Viber on routers and set-top boxes worldwide.
This hack is particularly concerning because it can potentially increase and compromise devices connected to the internet, sometimes years after they’ve been infected.
If you’ve ever heard of the Firefox browser, you might be aware that their latest update lets you search in private by deleting your history and cookies every time you close your browser.
While this might sound convenient, a hacker could use such a feature to find out if you’re searching for anything specific – or using any secure sites – on a public terminal.
The hacker can then isolate which areas in your internet history are relevant and take action accordingly – by stealing your information or emptying your bank account, for example.
These are just a few more sensationalized incidents that have made headlines. However, it’s important to note that your computer or mobile device can be hacked by some methods, which include:
- Social engineering: In some cases, hackers will send you an e-mail that looks like it’s from someone or somewhere you trust. When you click on the link in the message and enter your username and password, they can log in as though they were you.
- Keyloggers: These malicious programs can be installed on your computer via a download or e-mail attachment, but not all of them need to be running to work. These are a special kind of malware designed to record your keystrokes and then send them back to the hacker. Sometimes, your passwords will be logged in even though you’ve never touched them.
- Malicious websites: Several sites host keyloggers or other types of malicious software. You may think you’re visiting one thing, but they can take over your computer while you’re there and do just about anything they want with it.
- Bots: These types of viruses can be hidden on websites so that they can automatically scan for information without the site owner knowing it’s happening.
Bots can also be used to automatically capture and distribute information in a way that appears to be legit. Cyber-criminals often use them to operate.
Protecting against these types of hacks can be complex, but there are a few things you can do to help protect yourself.
- Always keep your software up-to-date: This helps prevent everything from keyloggers to malware.
- Use strong passwords: You may think X932A1LKj*% is a strong password, but when it’s generated by a keygen or brute force program, it can be easily hacked. Modern sites have 128-bit or 256-bit encryption, so use long and complicated passwords that include numbers, upper and lower case letters, special characters, and spaces.
- Avoid public Wi-Fi: When using an open or unsecured Wi-Fi connection, anyone in the area can see what you’re doing or even pretend to be you.
- Log off: If your computer is left unattended at any point, log off and shut it down.
- Use a VPN connection: A virtual private network encrypts all your traffic so that no one in between can intercept or steal it. However, the quality of these services varies dramatically by provider.
This is why it’s best to stick with a well-known provider like CyberGhost, free for personal use (although commercial users will have to pay for the more advanced features).
There are some other things you can do to stay safe online, including creating complex passwords and using encryption. However, the above list will help protect most users from being hacked.
As with anything related to security, it’s essential to ensure that you have the latest updates that prevent cybercriminals from gaining access to your system.