Hackers can make a criminal out of anyone – even of you

06/10/2020

Photo by freepik

"Another internet provider, another registration, another password. Then there is Wi-Fi access password, computer login, e-mail password... Who is supposed to remember all of them? And besides, there is nothing on my computer that could be of any interest to anybody. So, the new password is ... password123?" This example of a thought process represents one of the biggest mistakes you can make in protecting yourself against a crime in cyberspace - that you think you are worthless to hackers, and therefore, there is no reason to protect yourself sufficiently. But hackers be very creative in finding use of your data or your computer. They can even make you an accomplice without your knowledge.

Of course, the vast majority of cybercriminals still go after your money. That means they will try to get direct access to internet banking or online shopping accounts that you have linked to your payment card. Then they shop there - they are interested in everything that can be monetized. It does not necessarily have to be just physical goods; virtual commodities work well too. Especially the younger generation will know very well what I am talking about - nowadays people invest huge amounts of time and money in games and game characters. It often happens that an attacker steals a game account that has been built up for years and then sells it by components. And how does he get into the computer? I have already covered that a few times on my blog: usually with the help of some malicious code or application, or from an infected website.

If you are suddenly missing money from your account or are unable to open a game profile, you usually notice very quickly. But what you may not notice at all is when someone turns your computer into a "slave" and abuses it for their unfair practices. This usually starts with opening one wrong attachment and a malicious program is installed on your PC. Then, from time to time, it asks for instructions and if his "master" wants to, your computer will become involved in an attack on some website or another system. And since law investigators are able to trace your computer, you are in trouble too and you have a lot to explain. Recently, an antivirus company Kaspersky have warned against these mass attacks designated to, for example, disable websites. According to Kaspersky, the number of these attacks increased by 80% in the first quarter of this year.

And as for the data on your computer - it is true that holiday photos or a diploma thesis in progress are probably not of the hacker's biggest interest. But for you they are. How big? Criminals are very happy to find out using so-called ransomware. Just a moment of inattention is enough to install such a program, and suddenly a part of your disk is encrypted, and someone holds you for ransom. That can range from tens of thousands, but even millions when speaking of attacks on companies' computers. Either you sacrifice the data and reset the disk, or you cannot acquiesce to a loss and just pay. And you can only hope that you really get your data back.

If reading these lines makes you feel like fighting a losing battle, then do not despair. Hackers seldom target a specific person, but rather follow the path of least resistance. Introducing even relatively simple measures of protection will reduce the risk of attack significantly, as the attackers will go somewhere else. The key is to have good, not easily predicted passwords to accounts and network security. For example, simple phrases that make sense only to you make for a good password. Your computer should also be protected by an antivirus program that can detect potentially malicious software. It is best to back up your data proactively against ransomware so that you can recover any encrypted data. And, of course, ideally not to click on unknown e-mail attachments and not to install applications from unknown sources. You will never be completely safe from hackers but anything counts.

Like putting your wallet in your breast pocket instead of the back pocket.

I publish my articles also on the Aktuálně.cz blog.