I'm sure your very familiar with phrases like "hack, hacker, hacking" many would relate these words to the darker side of the technological world. However like it or not its these words that have created a very profitable market for those that pursue the darker art and those that try and prevent them, welcome to the cyber war.
A war which is fought on a daily basis on a virtual playing field known as the big old internet. If you use the internet to read emails, run a website or play games online you are a target to the many hackers who prey on any kind of vulnerability.
A hacker or a pirate, what's the difference?
When we are dealing with code or data in coloration with software, websites and servers, there are indeed vulnerabilities that exist no doubt, this creates a window of opportunity for hackers or anyone with technical programming knowledge to exploit.
Many portray a hacker with the characteristics of a nerd or a computer geek, lacking social life, but makes up for it with a high IQ and wizardly like abilities with code and computers. Ask a system admin or a security tech staff and many will frown when the word 'hacker' is mentioned, "they steal information and cause chaos". Pirates long ago sailed the seas better than most and stole treasure and bounty from unsuspecting cargo ships. Hackers surf the internet better than most and steal valuable and personal information using it for their benefit or to create chaos.
I got hacked!
Indeed myself, colleagues and friends that i know have experienced directly or in directly the wrath of a hacker. A few years ago a small website of mine was hacked, the contents of the website removed and the front page displaying a message. Due to its content i rather not disclose it within this article, but to give you an idea it was probably carried out by an individual who has not reached puberty.
The most common hacks that are doing the rounds at the minute are social network hacking and game hacking / exploits. With social network hacking we are namely looking at facebook, with millions of users worldwide, this is a hunting ground for hackers or should i say wannabe hackers, who are seeking a thrill or just picking up on the art. There are 600,000 facebook accounts that are compromised on a daily basis.
My password is: "1234"
Whether it be a facebook account or an email account, more than 50% are compromised because of weak passwords. It doesn't require a real hacker to get into your account, they just need to read the password you wrote on the pack of that cigarette packet you binned out last week...The same can be said with gamers who also use their in-game alias as their password, in fact an alarmingly 10% do so!
When an account is compromised the victim would often quote "my account has been hacked!", a common assumption, but the phrase is merely just hiding their incompetence of dealing with better cyber security.
More than 75% of cases relating to security breaches are in fact down to pure negligence or should i say being down right lazy? We are not just talking about individuals here but multi-million dollar companies who's staff and security division have overlooked security loopholes and fail to act upon them accordingly.
Riot Games better known for its hit LOL (League of Legends) has over 30 million players daily, back in 2012 its gaming servers were compromised. A hacker known as Jason gained access to over 24 million accounts. These accounts also included personal information such encrypted credit and debit card numbers. This specific breach was reported as the result of a current employee of Riot Games failing to change their password upon warning that a bruteforce attack (password hacking) had taken place.
Cyber security and prevention
The other day i left my house key on the front door for a few minutes before realizing, negligence? no, but carelessness happens in everyday life. Whatever it may be, there are consequences to our actions and the first and foremost principal to security online is the tool we have between our ears!
Being smart and taking precautions is a good way to start to keeping hackers at bay. It doesn't take a genius to work out that you must not click an unknown link in an email from an unknown sender, or to install an unverified application on your computer or mobile phone. If a person knocked on your door, would you invite them in without knowing who they are and what they want?
Update, update UPDATE!
Manufacturers often release regular updates to resolve glitches AND security vulnerabilities, in fact Microsoft releases updates every day. So make sure you keep an eye out for any notifications you see regarding the software installed on your device and update as soon as possible.
Making the RIGHT choice
The choices we make can prevent security breaches, choosing the right operating system, software and hardware can be the big difference. As a website owner we have had previous hacking attempts and namely DDOS attacks (distributed denial-of-service), on our web sites, resulting in servers running slowly or not at all. However since we have switched to the good guys over at Single Hop, we have been running smoothly ever since, and if you're serious about secure and reliable hosting then web hosting providers like Single Hop are highly recommended.
When selecting a hosting provider, a piece of software or hardware, always check to see if the provider offers services in relation to security, compatibility and provides ongoing updates. (if a software providers last update was in 1998, I'd think i would want to stay clear of using it!). If none of these factors are mentioned, one can only assume they don't take security seriously and would put your personal data in harm's way.
Be diligent, take precautions and stay safe online for 2015!