Boom! There Went Your Information!

Imagine Bob. Bob is a programmer for the X-Corporation in X-Town, USA. When Bob leaves home, he stops at the bank, gets his money from the secure ATM near the donut shop where he orders three jelly donuts for him, his wife (Julia), and his boss (Tom) – all who work on separate floors. After work, he clocks out and heads for a restaurant with his wife, spends $90 on their meal and then heads home. Once home, Bob logs into his favorite MMORPG (Massively Multiplayer Online Role Play Game), only to realize his character that was Level 80 just this morning, was now Level 1, with no weapons, no armour, and no skills. All while the hacker, Robert, is now sitting with Bob’s credit card information, skills, weapons, armour, and social security number. Online security, threats, and prevention techniques are all important in this technological age.

According to CompTIA and Cisco, the world’s leaders in computer security, a Botnet is a system of computers who are chained together to create a network of systems that can connect to any server. (Cisco Networking Academy) These botnets, or hacking tools, can be used in many ways. More often than not, CompTIA reports, that the most common way to become a part of the botnet is by downloading unsigned, un-verified software from manufactures. (Information Technology…)  Now, this of course is only partially true, as the full truth is it’s actually the adware or “Add-on” software that poses the biggest threats according to the Malwarebytes Security Blog. (Malwarebytes Unpacked)

Botnets are most commonly created to create an attack against a server or series of servers. These attacks are called Denial of Service Attacks or DDoS Attacks for short. (Cisco Networking Academy) DDoS attacks are usually a way to get information from the hacked server and then the information is transferred onto the hackers network. Information that can be stolen when a DDoS attack occurs is: Usernames, passwords, credit card information, social security information, emails, stats, and even addresses. (Malwarebytes Unpacked) Personal information that is taken can not usually be recovered, however, there are several ways to prevent the information from being stolen in conventional ways (ie: losing your computer, someone “shoulder surfing”, or public wifi).

Preventing the attack is just as hard as the attack itself. Most companies spend nearly $100,000 or more on update network security yearly just to create the most up to date systems and preventative measures. (Information Technology…) Home users can protect themselves a little better than companies. Some of the strongest recommendations by Cisco are: “Passwords with a mixture of cased letters, a few numbers, and a non-alphanumeric character.” (Cisco Networking Academy) Again, as with every computer problem, several companies say different things. Many private contractors who have been interviewed in the past who have bachelors or masters degrees in computer security have the strong opinion that a strong password doesn’t have to be complex. “Think of a phrase, take the first letter out of each one of the words in the phrase, and then turn some of the letters into numbers, and then throw in some exclamation points…”  (Hacked vs. Hackers)

Personally, the opinion that has been shared worldwide is that there is a problem with people’s  reservations to create better passwords. Simplicity is honestly the easiest role in online security. Using third party iris scanners, or other biometric scanners, you are less likely to be hacked. No one can replicate your eye, your DNA. Although, even if you have a strong password and/or biometric scanner on your PC, you still need strong passwords for your applications and websites. This can be achieved by using a two-factor authentication and/or a password manager like LastPass or One Pass. (Hackers vs. Hacked) Although it isn’t easier, it will surely be a lot easier than recouping all of the lost money and information, as well as running about trying to work out the kinks in the life of the hacked.

However if the attackers do hit, and the hacked are helpless, they’ll have to get everything fixed. Obviously the first step is to set everything in motion and change the password, as well as following the steps mentioned above. Finally, the hacked should change any credit cards that may have been hacked as well as explain the situation to the bank, so they can watch for unnatural charges and debts.

So whether you’re like Bob and play online video games, or just a person who browses the web. Remember: don’t be afraid to go online! Be free, go online and game on, watch your favorite cat videos, or send those pictures of your beautiful new granddaughter over Facebook and twitter. All you need to be safe is a strong password and faith!

 

Sources:

  • Cisco Networking Academy. (n.d.). Retrieved May 15, 2015, from http://netacad.com  
  • Information Technology (IT) Industry & Association | CompTIA. (n.d.). Retrieved May 15, 2015, from http://www.comptia.org  
  • Malwarebytes Unpacked. (n.d.). Retrieved May 15, 2015, from https://blog.malwarebytes.org/  
  • Hacked vs. Hackers: Game On. (2014, December 2). Retrieved May 15, 2015, from http://bits.blogs.nytimes.com//2014/12/02/hacked-vs-hackers-game-on/  
  • ‘123456’ tops list of worst passwords – CNN.com. (n.d.). Retrieved May 7, 2015, from http://www.cnn.com/2014/01/22/tech/web/most-common-passwords/index.html
  • Use smarter passwords. (n.d.). Retrieved May 7, 2015, from http://money.cnn.com/gallery/technology/security/2014/09/02/hacking-photos/3.html
  • Hernandez, P. (2014). Xbox Live, PSN Back Online After Holiday DDoS Attacks. Eweek, 1.
  • Mochizuki, T. (2014, December 9). Sony’s PlayStation Network Hit With Cyber Attack. Wall Street Journal (Online). p. 1.

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