Hacking has been making waves in the tech world, especially since the rise of cryptocurrency. It’s a realm where brilliant minds seek innovation and disruptors try to cause chaos. Shockingly, recent data show that Ireland saw a 37% surge in cryptocurrency theft, totalling about €1.8 billion. Here’s the reality: the risk of getting hacked is greater than ever as these cunning cybercriminals evolve. However, you can fortify your defences by understanding their tactics. Here are six ways you could fall victim to hacking.
- Smartphone apps
Many people have and love those handy apps that make life easier. In today’s digital world, they’ve become essential. However, your smartphone could be more vulnerable if you’re an Android user without two-factor authentication (2FA). Android’s open-source operating system, while offering flexibility, can be a playground for viruses, making it less secure than the iPhone. When you open an app, you often share sensitive information, potentially giving hackers an open door. The solution is to be picky with your app choices, focus on the ones with credible ratings and reviews, and beef up your security with Two-Factor Authentication on all apps and devices. Don’t forget to double-check your links too.
2. Sites-cloning and phishing
Site cloning and phishing are a classic that has been around since the ‘dot-com revolution.’ As they say, ‘the old ones are the best.’ In one scenario, the cyber tricksters create a near-perfect replica of a legitimate website, hoping to trick you into entering your password or secret key. They might even slightly alter the website’s domain, so be vigilant. In the second scenario, they send emails that look identical to official communications but aim to trick you into clicking a malicious link and giving away your data. Trust your instincts, and if something feels off, delete it. Stick to websites with genuine HTTPS protocol.
3. Beware of public Wi-Fi
Public Wi-Fi is a hacking scenario that many naturally fear. Your device can connect to a hacker’s Wi-Fi network through a misleading link or accidentally choosing the wrong network. Anything you download or send while connected to that network is fair game for hackers. They can access your private keys from crypto wallets, online banking details, email passwords, and more. This issue is especially critical when using public Wi-Fi in railway stations, airports, hotels, or any crowded spot. Hackers can lurk incognito, waiting for an unsuspecting victim. The rule of thumb here is never to use public Wi-Fi for financial or sensitive transactions, not even with a VPN. Also, keep your router firmware updated, as manufacturers frequently release updates. Meanwhile, you can use SSID as an alternative. But what is SSID? It stands for Service Set Identifier, enabling you to learn more ways to protect yourself on Wi-Fi networks.
4. Malicious USB sticks
You’ve probably heard stories of people finding USB sticks in parking lots and trying to do the right thing by returning them. However, there’s a darker side to this scenario. Sometimes, these USB sticks are loaded with malware and intentionally left by criminals. You don’t need to be the target of a specific attack to fall victim to malware. Inserting random devices like CDs, DVDs, USB drives, or any other found peripherals, such as a mouse or keyboard, puts you at risk of getting hacked. To protect yourself, use reputable antivirus software and make sure it scans all connected devices. While it’s not foolproof and can’t catch every threat, it significantly reduces the chances of falling prey to random malware or malware created by less skilled attackers.
5. SMS authentication
SMS for authentication may seem like a quick and familiar way to confirm your identity, but it’s not as secure as you think. Positive Technologies, a cybersecurity company, has shown how easy it is for attackers to intercept SMS messages containing password confirmations, thanks to the Signalling System 7 (SS7) protocol used worldwide. They demonstrated that any system relying solely on SMS can be accessed by hackers, even if 2FA is used. To protect yourself, turn off call forwarding to prevent data access and consider using a software-based authentication solution instead.
6. Malicious documents
Hackers often hide malware in seemingly harmless Office documents like Word or Excel. When you open these files, your computer can get instantly infected. These malicious documents typically arrive in your inbox, disguised as seemingly secure emails. Upon opening, you might receive a pop-up message prompting you to enable macros to view the document’s content. If you allow macros, your computer becomes susceptible to malware attacks. So, avoid enabling macros and never open attachments from suspicious emails or unknown contacts.