The activity of identifying weaknesses in a network or computer to exploit security to gain access to business or personal data is hacking. An example of this can be using a method to enable the password to be cracked to gain entry to a computer system.
Computers are now vital to running a successful business. It is not sufficient to have computer systems isolated. They need to be networked to enable communication with external companies, which exposes them to hacking from the outside world.
Hacking computers is used to commit fraudulent activities such as privacy invasion, fraud, stealing personal information or corporate data, etc. Cybercrimes cost companies millions of dollars each year. Their computer systems need to be updated with the latest internet security software against such attacks.
Types of Cybercrime
- ATM fraud
- This involves obtaining credit card and ATM card information such as the PIN, bank account number, or credit card number. This information is can then be used to access funds from the accounts.
- Computer fraud
- Intentional deception for personal gain using computer systems.
- Denial of service attacks
- The use of computers in multiple locations to attack servers to shut them down
- Electronic funds transfer
- This is unauthorized access to bank computer networks .to transfer funds illegally
- Electronic laundering of money
- The use of computers for money laundering
- Identity theft
- Stealing personal information to impersonate that person
- Privacy violations
- Exposing personal information such as email address, account details, phone number, etc. on social media such as Facebook and Twitter
- Sharing copyrighted files or information
- This is distributing copyright-protected files. Computer programs and eBooks are particularly prone to this.
- Sending unauthorized emails containing advertisements
But how do hackers gain access to computer systems to commit these cyber crimes?
Here are the five most common ways hackers can access your computer systems.
A malicious website is a site that attempts to install malware, which is a term for anything that will disrupt computer operation, obtain your personal information, or in the worst scenario, gain complete access to your system.
Malware attacks are launched when an unsuspecting employee clicks on links to infected websites or inserts an infected USB. It delivers software into your system to gain access to or cause damage to a network or computer.
In hacking, a shellcode is used to exploit vulnerable software. It typically starts a command shell from which the attacker can control the infected machine. A shellcode attack can stop the system’s antivirus from working.
A way to prevent this is to restrict internet access with the company. Run malware detection software and keep existing security software up to date.
Social engineering is becoming more and more sophisticated. Be aware of what you post on social media. Hackers will use this information to dupe unsuspecting employees or users into providing confidential or sensitive information.
Before posting any information, carefully consider the information you are about to post and the result if hacked.
Weak passwords are a significant problem. Eighty percent of all cybercrime is related to this problem. Half of the computer users have only one password for all logins.
Educate your employees or team about the importance of using strong passwords. A strong password should be used for every account, changed every 90 days, use special characters, and be different for each login.
Phishing emails appear to be regular emails from a legitimate source. However, when you enter a password or click a link, they lead to an infected website. At first, the compromise is not identified immediately. Only when the user realizes that their information cannot be accessed, do they realize there is a problem. In the past five years, phishing scams have increased by 125%.
To prevent this problem, keep your OS, browsers, and applications updated with the latest security patches. Do not open emails from unknown sources or click on any unknown links.
Hackers use Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP) to access the host network or computer and install ransomware. When installed, a user loses access to their devices and data until payment is made.
This can be devastating. And if you pay, it does not mean you will get your file back. You may not be aware that your system has been compromised until your security information has been sold to a third party, who will then leverage it against you to obtain payment.
To combat this, change your passwords often and back up your data. Choose a strong security software that updates often. As with phishing emails, do not open links or visit websites unless you are 100% sure they are legitimate sites.
There are entire websites on the « dark web » entirely devoted to the illegal selling of access to RDP servers. Not only is there an attack from ransomware, but another common outcome from an RDP attack is that hackers will offer your RDP system information for sale on the dark web.
Ways to Protect Yourself from Cybercrime
In addition to having a good firewall and antivirus on your computer, there are additional ways to make sure you do not become a victim of cybercrime when using wi-fi.
- Do not share personal information online unless you are sure of the safety of the website. The best way to know if the site is safe is to look for an « s » in the URL address you visit.
- For example, an unsafe site will start with HTTP://
- A safe site will begin with HTTPS://
- Do not click on links in emails, even if you know the sender. Also, do not download files. The exception to this rule is if you expect a file or link from someone. If you have spoken to them and know where the link will lead or what the file contains, you can safely open it. For other circumstances, do not click. If you receive an email from a credit card company or a bank, close the email and type the sender’s address directly into your web browser. Or call the company and ask them directly about the message you received.
- Hackers search for outdated computers that have not had security updates or patches installed for some time. They know how to gain access to systems, and without the proper updates and security patches, you are vulnerable. If your system permits updates to install, be sure to allow that automatically. Keeping your system up to date is one of the most effective weapons you have against cybercrime.
- Having a backup of all your information ensures that you can be up and running again in no time. Remember that when you change your computer, such as adding a new program or changing the settings, perform a backup. The backup should be kept separate from your computer, back up the files to a removable hard drive or the cloud. If your data is then encrypted, it can be restored from the backup.
Cybercrimes are on the rise. Organized cybercrime gangs use the public’s fear, uncertainty, or ignorance of preventing these crimes as an avenue to exploit computer users for criminal gain. Ensuring you have the proper security installed on your computer will help to thwart their efforts.