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Ways to Prevent Unnecessary Hacks

Updated on July 26, 2016
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Mobile-1, a mobile service provider used by thousands here in Singapore, had to suspend their customers’ pre-orders of IPhone 6 when it discovered a potential vulnerability in its website.

Thankfully, the customer who discovered the loophole, a graduate in computer science, alerted the service provider when he found that he could easily breach the website and secure the data of M1’s customers.

Having a website destroyed is a harrowing experience. Apart from having to reconstruct it completely, you will lose valuable data. It may prompt you to ask why hackers do what they do and quite importantly, how they do it.

On a heartening note, there are ways to prevent such maliciousness.

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Why hackers hack

So why do hackers commit their terrible deeds? The action of defacing and defiling computers has several motivations.

For a start, some hackers are vindictive. They may have left their workplaces, computer-related or not, for unpleasant reasons. They seek to make the company they left vulnerable by revealing its data.

Ego has a large part to play in a hacker's actions. Having information on hand is edifying for them; it boosts their ego and puts them in a superior position.

And then, secret knowledge is addictive. It gives hackers a thrill, just as a tawdry love affair would. The feeling is akin to having a secret of a dear friend playing in one's mind.

Most hackers deface websites out of sheer boredom; it is the same reason teens use when asked why they vandalize walls, tables, and chairs with annoying, yet captivating graffiti.

Pure greed motivates. Some hackers hack the websites of banks and other financial institutions to steal. Others extort; they hack into a vulnerable person’s website, download compromising photographs and threaten to expose them if they do not get a large sum of money in return for their discretion.

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The trouble with hacking

Hacking is an unwanted menace in today’s society. A hacker is a troublesome foe for a few reasons.

Hacking is, of course, a destructive, criminal act. Deliberately accessing sensitive information puts them on par with your average bank robber. Picture a scenario with hackers accessing the systems of military websites around the world. With increasing nuclear threats, the potential hazard is self-explanatory.

Moreover, hackers make you vulnerable. Their access to your sensitive photographs or emails can cause potential harm to relationships or finance.

The fact that it is so easy to access websites makes hackers so dangerous. Many governments do not make hacking a crime punishable by law. Hacking is not, technically, a crime. Even if it were, it is hard to catch them in the act. Hackers often use rotating IP addresses so that no one can fix their location.

Further, they parallel back robbers, yet are as stealthy as ninjas. A person does not know that he is a victim until his computer slows terribly. The realization may only dawn when an offensive goblin replaces his website's homepage.

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How Hackers Do It

So how do these fellows creep up on you? They have a few tricks up their sleeves, and you deserve to know them.

1. Log In Keystrokes

Computer programs allow a hacker to review every keystroke his victim makes. When a person keys in a password or fills in an online form, his keystrokes reveal his identity. Hackers mimic these keystrokes to gain access to passwords.

2. Passwords

Hackers may also use simple combinations and algorithms to hack someone’s password. Computer experts term this a Brute Force Attack.

3. Gaining backdoor access

If a hacker cannot use password algorithms, he may try to gain backdoor access to a computer system by using software to search for unprotected pathways. They then infect the computer with the notorious Trojan Horse virus weakens it and allows the hacker to gain such access.

4. Creating Zombie Computers

A zombie computer, or a bot, connects your computer with a hacker’s system. A clean code or password entry on the victim’s part opens a connection between them. The bot allows the hacker to spread spam or commit other crimes.

5. Spying on email

Hackers create code that allows them to read emails. Thankfully, today’s email programs use encryption formulas. Hackers are unable to read the mail they intercept.

The Best Way to Prevent Cybercrime and Hacking Attempts

14 Tips to prevent hacking

1. Validate input.

Bloggers will find this particularly useful. As writers, we prize comments and treat them as treasures. But a comment form allows a hacker to insert disruptive HTML code.

Some bloggers already use captchas and validation software. Such software, however, needs further development. Those who are not hackers or spammers have difficulty reading captchas.

2. Do not install third-party scripts.

Installing third-party scripts or programs on your computer is dangerous because they, again, connect your computer to a potential hacker’s system. Visit community forums such as Digital Point or Site Point to seek advice.

3. Stay away from potential scams.

And then, it is advisable to stay away from potential scams. Popular, but dubious websites are those that guarantee high traffic in exchange for buying software. These scams are sure ways for hackers to gain entry into your computer’s systems.

4. Clear your cookies.

Your memory may not serve you well. You may find storing passwords on my browser tempting. Store them in a safe excel file instead. Log into your browser’s preferences and clear website data regularly.

5. Store sensitive data in a secure format.

To prevent hackers from harvesting valuable data such as email addresses or phone numbers, store it in a secure format such as MYSQL database.

6. Use file permissions.

Those who use Wordpress platforms for their blogs know that they have to set file permissions. For those who allow their hosting companies to do so for them, file permissions enable you to grant others access to view your records. Default file permissions are 777, which allows everyone to see them. Always tweak these permissions so that some files stay private.

7. Do not use generic usernames or passwords.

Never use generic passwords such as “admin”. Always use an alphanumeric password that starts with a capital letter and ends with a symbol. Such a password forces a hacker to do time-consuming guesswork. Always update your passwords regularly.

8. Secure your ports.

Ports transfer data from your computer to another server. Those who use Wordpress blogs know that they have to transfer their FTP files to their hosting company’s servers. Make sure that you close ports thoroughly after you use them. In other words, log out of another party’s server once you have no use for it.

9. Update your security.

Then, update your website’s security regularly. You may update plugins on a regular basis, so watch out for your files.

10. Do not share information.

You may make the mistake of not clearing your username from websites you visit. Again, this gives leeway to a hacker to create chaos.

11. Organize yourself.

You are probably a member of one social media site or another, and may use certain internet services for certain purposes. Always delete the services you do not use.

12. Create backups.

Backup your website data. Many WordPress plugins enable you to do this. They are free, so make use of them.

13. Use firewalls.

Firewalls help you detect threats to your computer’s security. They are the noses that sniff out the malware and spyware that hackers install. A disadvantage of these programs is that they consume a lot of your computer’s memory and slow it down.

14. Do not run redundant systems or software

Try not to run programs that you have not used for a while. Defunct programs are an open door for potential hacks.

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E. Types of hackers

Different computer hackers have different intentions. Here are some common ones.

1. White Hats

These are the hackers that break into computer systems to do damage. They have the same skills as malicious hackers but use them to help instead of harm (think Robin Hood).
Organizations employ White Hats to test for vulnerabilities in the networks.

2. Black Hats

The black hats are the ones who arouse wariness. These fellows break into computer systems for various unethical purposes.

3. Grey Hats

This fellow is ambiguous. A Gray Hat does not harbor ill intent, but may sometimes resort to unethical activities.

4. A Script Kid

The name is apt. This person is a “kid” because he lacks the skills of a hacker. He relies on scripts or software programs to cause damage.

5. Phreaker

Find this fellow trying to tap into your phone to use your telecommunications systems, for messaging purposes or otherwise. He sometimes tricks phone systems into allowing him to make long distance calls.

6. A Hacktivist

This fellow has political motivations. He usually hacks government websites and leaves messages for the world to see.

7. Computer Security Hackers

This hacker targets computer networking systems. He has the skills to breach firewalls that protect network servers.

8. Academic Hacker

Such a recalcitrant is a student of an educational institution. This student may either be out for revenge on the organization for not giving him perfect grades, or want to use its computing resources to create programs.

9. Hobby Hackers

A home hacker hacks for his convenience. He may attempt to jailbreak his IPAD, or crack the code of software to use it without a license.

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F. Famous Hackers

HHere are some hackers we know well and admire grudgingly. Some names may surprise you.

1. Apple’s Founders

Yes, Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak were both hackers. Some of their activities bordered on the maliciousness of the hackers we know today. Thankfully, they redirected themselves and gave us a company that created the new iPhone 6.

2. Johnathan James

James was the first junior to go to jail for hacking. He broke into the systems of high-profile agencies, including NASA and the Department of Justice. He did so for the thrill; the youngster wanted to see if he could pull it off.

3. Adrian Lamo

Lamo broke into reputable organizations like the New York Times and Microsoft. The Homeless Hacker, he has internet connections all over America.

4. Kevin Mitnick

Mitnick is a famous hacker who exploited the Los Angeles bus punch card system. He hacked into computers consistently and stole corporate secrets. Producers documented his activities in two movies.

5. James Arokiasamy

Singapore can boast hacktivist James Arokiasamy. Also known as the Messiah, he hacked into government websites and other organizations to steal website data. He was “hacked” with 105 charges of computer misuse.

F. Conclusion

You can prevent hacking from disrupting your life, if you put the proper measures in place.

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    • midget38 profile image
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      Michelle Liew 2 years ago from Singapore

      Thanks, Deb!

    • aviannovice profile image

      Deb Hirt 2 years ago from Stillwater, OK

      This is amazingly deadly and deceptive work. It is also a shame that this genius cannot be put to more positive work.

    • midget38 profile image
      Author

      Michelle Liew 2 years ago from Singapore

      Thanks, Dianna.

    • teaches12345 profile image

      Dianna Mendez 2 years ago

      I found the this information interesting and certainly useful. I didn't realize running an old program would open doors to hackers. Thanks for posting this valuable information. Sharing!

    • midget38 profile image
      Author

      Michelle Liew 2 years ago from Singapore

      Thanks, Deal for a Living!

    • DealForALiving profile image

      Sam Deal 2 years ago from Earth

      Sounds like hacking is here to stay so we better just deal with it and be more secure with our info.

    • midget38 profile image
      Author

      Michelle Liew 2 years ago from Singapore

      Thanks, Chitrangada.

    • ChitrangadaSharan profile image

      Chitrangada Sharan 2 years ago from New Delhi, India

      Very important and useful information for everyone who is using Internet!

      Thanks for sharing your knowledge. Voted up and shared on HP!

    • midget38 profile image
      Author

      Michelle Liew 2 years ago from Singapore

      Aww....Paula...just sharing a little about what I learned after what silly hackers sis to my site! Thanks for sharing, my friend!

    • midget38 profile image
      Author

      Michelle Liew 2 years ago from Singapore

      Thanks, Paula! He must be great at what he does.

    • midget38 profile image
      Author

      Michelle Liew 2 years ago from Singapore

      Thanks, Pawpawwrites!

    • midget38 profile image
      Author

      Michelle Liew 2 years ago from Singapore

      Thanks, Bill!

    • fpherj48 profile image

      Paula 2 years ago from Beautiful Upstate New York

      Michelle. This is such vital information. You have covered this with the knowledge and confidence of an EXPERT. I am very appreciative. It is imperative that this hub be read by all......which is why I am sharing. UP++

    • Paula Atwell profile image

      Paula Atwell 2 years ago from Cleveland, OH

      These are great tips and all in the same place. I am lucky that my husband works with computers at his job and is aware of these things. We have only had virus attacks on our daughters' laptops due to unwise website choices. Knock on wood.

    • Pawpawwrites profile image

      Jim 2 years ago from Kansas

      Great tips to prevent hacking. No matter why they do it, it is a huge problem.

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Good information...important information....information we all need. Thank you Michelle.

    • midget38 profile image
      Author

      Michelle Liew 2 years ago from Singapore

      Thanks, Devika!

    • DDE profile image

      Devika Primić 2 years ago from Dubrovnik, Croatia

      Certainly well-organized tips here.

    • midget38 profile image
      Author

      Michelle Liew 2 years ago from Singapore

      How do we prevent malicious attempts to breach our information systems?