Knowing what’s out there is clearly important when it comes to keeping yourself safe online. Read this article to learn about eight of the most common hacking tactics, along with what steps you can take to secure yourself from them.
Wi-Fi spoofing (aka Fake WAP)
Public Wi-Fi networks are great when you’re on the move. However, it’s important to be aware of the attacks that can make use of public wireless networks to hack your data. One of the most common risks with using public wireless networks is falling for a spoofed Wi-Fi.
Wi-Fi spoofing is a kind of Hacking Techniques, also known as Fake Wireless Access Point attacks, are a hacking tactic that work by creating a false Wi-Fi connection point. If you browse the Wi-Fi networks available in a public place, you’ll usually see a lot of entries such as ‘Starbucks Wi-Fi’ or ‘Public Library Wi-Fi,’ which appear to be safe to use. The problem is that hackers sometimes setup similar sounding networks, such as ’Free Cafe Wi-Fi’ which trick users into logging onto their connection before entering personal details.
Keyloggers are a type of malware based Hacking Techniques that record everything you type on your keyboard, and send that data to the hacker who made the program. If you have a keylogger on your device, the hacker responsible will quickly get any usernames and passwords that you type, along with anything from bank details to phone numbers, potentially making many of your accounts vulnerable.
Phishing attacks work by making users believe that the hackers are someone they are not, through the use of a facade or ‘bait’.
One of the most common forms of Phishing is through email. In these cases, hackers will pose as a reputable source, be it a bank, a colleague or a client. They send an email requesting personal information in the hope that the recipient will provide it, believing they are in contact with a trusted source.
Trojans, named after the Trojan horse, are a type of malware that provides access to other malware programs once installed on your computer.
They might be emailed to you, posing as PDFs or other common file types, or you might be tricked into downloading them online when you think you’re downloading another program or file. When you open the seemingly harmless file, the malware within is let loose on your device.
A distributed denial of service attack can cut off your internet connection. DDOS Hacking Techniques work by using a network of computers, often ones taken over by viruses, to send so many requests to your IP address that your network gets overwhelmed. DDOS attacks can be stopped by changing your IP address – and hiding it so it is not discovered again.
Man in the middle (MITM)
Man in the middle attacks catch data between you and the website or internet service you’re connecting to. For example, a hacker could prowl an unsecured public Wi-Fi network intercepting and editing any data sent over it. The best way to stop MITM attacks is to ensure all important data sent to and from your device is encrypted, as this will stop any third parties from being able to read it.
While any type of cookie theft will leave you disappointed, an online one can also give a hacker access to your login details to many sites. Websites store your login information in ‘cookies’ to automatically recognise you and log you in to their websites.
To stop cookie theft from being useful, website programmers need to ensure that they encrypt the data they store in cookies. Otherwise, as a user, the only thing you can do is to regularly clear your cookies to limit your exposure in case of theft – and to take common sense measures to avoid installing software from untrusted sources that may include malicious content.
Brute force password attacks
Having a secure password is one of the most important things you can do for your online privacy, but it is something that most people neglect. According to a 2017 survey by Splash Data, the most common passwords are still ‘123456’ and ‘password.’ Hackers are well aware of this, and guessing your password is by far the easiest way for them to gain access to your accounts and data.
Anyone who knows your email address or account name can try to log in to your Facebook, email, or any other account, and make a guess as to your password. Brute force attacks automate this process, attempting to log in to accounts by trying thousands of combinations per minute. If you use any common password, it will likely let in a brute force attack in a matter of seconds.
3 of the best ways to avoid being hacked from all above hacking techniques
Virtual Private Networks secure your online activity by routing your traffic through their servers. This both hides your identity, as the VPN accesses websites on your behalf, and secures your connection, as VPNs encrypt the data between you and their servers.
VPN services cost a few pounds a month, but are the most comprehensive tool for securing your online privacy. Simply using a VPN will protect you from MITM and DDOS attacks, as your data will be encrypted and your real IP hidden. Your internet service provider also won’t be able to throttle your internet speeds or track your online activity, and you’ll be able to safely use public Wi-Fi networks.
Antivirus programs can detect and remove viruses such as keyloggers and trojans. That said, a good quality antivirus will likely include threat-detection to stop viruses reaching you in the first place, along with things like app behaviour scanners to flag suspicious activity, and tools to flag emails and attachments that might be Phishing attempts or laced with ransomware.
Having a secure password is important. The reason why so many people still choose to use simple passwords is that complex and secure passwords are hard to remember, but thankfully, password managers allow you to have a range of secure passwords without having to remember a thing.
The most important thing you can do to stay secure online is to educate yourself on the risks and use common sense. When you get sent an email you’re not expecting, double-check what address it is from, don’t follow links, and inspect attachments before opening them. With just a few simple precautions you are far less vulnerable to any type of hacking tactic.