Another day of hacking ? Well that’s how it feels when your account is hacked by others.
Nowadays, the rate of hacked or compromised accounts is quite alarming, and the trend is seen to continue in the near future.
Recently, there were revelations about hackers being able to access millions of accounts on Twitter. Do you ever wonder how they do it? The answer is simple, they just matched the passwords they have used from their previous hacking sessions with Twitter usernames.
While hacking is becoming a rampant issue, a lot of things must be kept in mind, such as protecting your account, ensuring the security of your online data, and being in control of all the personal information you have provided.
How do hackers get your information ?
Whenever we hear the term “hacking”, the first thing that may come to our minds is the long hours spent by hackers to crack multiple codes in a computer and how they look for a lot of ways to figure out the actual passwords people are using. In reality, however, hackers will just simply use a program that can browse all the information they need to get the log-in of a certain user’s account. They can do it without spending long hours of cracking codes in front of the computer.
According to Mr. Alexander Heid, Chief Research Officer of a security monitoring platform called Security Scorecard, hackers usually examine or break down previous data breaches for usernames, emails and passwords, then make an attempt to use these credentials again on popular sites. He also mentioned that hackers are using checker scripts to test several batches of username and password combinations to validate existing accounts on certain websites. He noted that these scripts are available for every service and these are constantly being updated and circulated for continuous hacking purposes.
What does this mean? Whenever you create new accounts somewhere, you will likely reuse some information you have already provided on your existing account. Even if the usernames and passwords you use are not the same, hackers can still find a way to access your account through some information like the answers you have provided on security questions being asked from you.
Sometimes, hackers can become more technical in an attempt to steal some of your information. This is where the presence of malwares come in. Malwares are basically types of software created by hackers specifically designed to infect computers to help them gain access to a user’s personal information.
One prominent example of malware is the keylogger, which typically tracks every information you type on the computer. Once tracked, this information will be sent to the same hackers who wrote that malware code. That way, it will be easier for them to hack your accounts – all they need to do is to just simply wait for you to type your log-ins in front of the computer and they can already have access to your account as well.
Another method utilized by hackers to access usernames and passwords is the use of phishing emails. Phishing emails are essentially designed to trick users in disclosing personal information to legit-looking emails which are actually not. Usually, these emails contain links that will redirect users to a legit-looking website where they’re supposed to log-in. As a user, you may think that it’s an official website but it’s a bogus one. And by logging in to these kinds of links, you are basically providing your personal information to the ones who sent them.
What can you do to stay safe ?
Since you already know how these hackers do their work, it’s essential for you to protect your personal information, and it’s a good idea to start with prioritizing the security of your passwords.
As mentioned earlier, hackers are making use of existing data breaches to search passwords and find usernames of existing accounts on other websites. Once done, they will use that same combination of usernames and passwords to log-in. It’s much easier for these hackers to gain access to your accounts if you are just using the same password for all of them.
Given that situation, it’s recommended to create a different set of passwords for all the accounts you have. Though they may seem difficult to remember, unique passwords help your accounts remain secure. Apart from that, coming up with different passwords can also save you time and effort. In case one of your online accounts gets hacked, these unique passwords will prevent the hassle of changing passwords for your other accounts.
Make use of antivirus software. Apart from keeping an eye on your passwords, it’s also essential to prevent viruses from infecting your computer. Since you are becoming more exposed to virus every time you browse websites, download files and install software, it pays to have an antivirus software installed on your computer. Not only will it offer real time security and protection, some of them are free and easy to download, too.
Beware of phishing scams. Phishing emails will try to get your personal information once you’re redirected to their legit-looking links. You can avoid being a victim of this trap by simply following these tips:
- To tell if it’s a phishing email, try looking at the email address of the sender. Usually, this email looks like it was sent by a company such as Amazon or Apple but there’s a catch – its format is slightly off compared to the legit one. Apple’s legit email format is [email protected] while an email coming from [email protected] is considered a scam.
- When receiving phishing emails, be cautious about the links inside them. Usually, these links look like they will redirect you to a legitimate website of a certain company but they are just taking you to a different website. You can check on the actual address of a link by simply hovering the mouse pointer over it.
- Pay attention to the greetings at the start of the email. If the greetings are addressing you as their “valued customer” instead of your actual name, there’s a high chance that it’s a scam. If there are any attachments on that email, never try to open or download them.
Preparation is always the key. It’s okay to anticipate being hacked than ignoring that possibility at all. Hackers always find a way to gain access to your accounts no matter how protected they are. That’s why it’s essential to keep yourself prepared by ensuring that these hackers will not get as much personal information from you.