Posted on December 18, 2021 at 8:58 AM
If you’re using a computer and connected to the internet, you are at risk of being targeted by hackers. These online predators generally use different types of methods such as fake websites, spam emails, and phishing scams to perpetuate their acts. Once they have succeeded in compromising a system, they can plant malware or ransomware to extort more critical information from the compromised computer.
Computer hackers may also try to have direct unauthorized access to the personal information on your computer if your system is not protected by a firewall. They can look into the back-end of your website or monitor your conversations with others as a way of gaining critical information. Sometimes, the hackers opt to sell the stolen information on the darknet while at other times they can contact the victim and demand a ransom payment.
And with 2021 almost concluding these threat actors will be consolidating on their loot and preparing to launch further hacks in 2022. To stay protected, it’s important to understand the dangers hacking can cause to your system and the best ways to protect your computer from being compromised. But first, you need to understand the main types of hacking methods deployed by threat actors.
Types of Hacks
Hacking can be categorized into two: Zero-Day and Everything else.
Zero-Day hacks are targeted at vulnerabilities that have not been seen before. They are the most dangerous because security teams do not have ready-made solutions or patches for them. In most zero-days, the threat actors may hide their malware in the system for a long time while security teams may not even know they exist. As a result, they can cause severe havoc and steal a lot of files before the hacking is discovered.
The hackers with expertise in zero-days use highly skilled and sophisticated techniques to launch their attacks. Generally, the hackers with skills in zero-days only use them on something with substantial financial gains, such as attacking a multinational organization or national security systems.
The other category of hacking is more common and involves threat actors who are using malicious code published by someone else to compromise systems. The hackers use existing software, and in most cases, these attackers do not have many technical skills. However, their attack can prove to be very costly for the victims, especially when highly sensitive information is stolen. This type of attack is also easier to defend against when the targeted user always keeps their systems properly updated.
What Are Things That A Hacker Can Do To Your System?
As your computer is connected to the internet, the malware a hacker installs in the computer can be transmitting your financial and personal information quietly without your consent or knowledge. In some cases, the malware may hide within the system for a long time, collecting both old information and new ones for a very long time.
Also, a threat actor can pounce on the information by pretending to be a genuine organization, deceiving you to reveal important details about your finance. They can cause a lot of damage, including ruining your credit, stealing your credit card details and eventually taking your money, hijacking your usernames and passwords, making purchases with your credit card details, or requesting new Personal Identification Numbers (PIN) in your name.
In addition, they can sell your details to another scammer who may use them for phishing scams in the future. They can use the information for illegal or illicit purposes, thereby putting you in more trouble.
And in some cases, they can cause a serious physical threat as they can pose as an acquaintance or friend to meet the target in person.
The following is a broader explanation of what a hacker can do to your system
Tracking of User Actions
Hackers have now gone very technical as they can use key-logging software to track the activities of the user online. This software can be used to track every keystroke by the targeted user, thereby stealing account details and passwords. If the hacker succeeds in getting into your system, they can plant key-logging software and monitor your keystrokes.
Once you enter your account details or any other sensitive information on a platform, the software automatically records the entered keys and sends them to the control server of the hackers. This type of attack is growing in frequency and could increase in 2022.
Loss or Manipulation of Data
After succeeding in gaining access to your computer, the hackers can do a lot of harm. Apart from stealing your important information, they can proceed to delete or manipulate sensitive data.
In some hacking instances, the user can get their data stolen and completely deleted from the system, leaving them the only option of retrieving the files from the hacker. Of course, getting back the stolen data will come with a ransom.
Security and Privacy Breach
Computer hacking is a breach or compromise of computer security. Once the security of the system is breached, it leads to an invasion of privacy. After the initial breach, sensitive user data can be exposed as confidential user information like personal details, personal photographs, bank account files, credit card numbers, or social security numbers can be exposed.
When such information falls into the hands of a bad actor, there are a lot of things they can do with it. The details will be vulnerable to manipulation and illegitimate use. When certain information that is supposed to stay private is exposed to the public, it can lead to serious emotional issues for the affected user.
Identity theft is one of the major targets of threat actors. It is a fraud that involves pretending to be someone else using the main user’s information to gain unauthorized access to property or information. A hacker can steal the social security number of a user and use it to apply for credits. It’s a practice that has been existing for many years, the internet has now made it much easier for threat actors.
The growing popularity and adoption of cryptocurrencies have made them very attractive to threat actors and scammers. A hacker can plant malware into a computer to steal information about a cryptocurrency wallet.
Once the details of the account are stolen, the hacker can transfer funds out of the account to their crypto wallet. Unfortunately, it’s difficult to reverse this type of transaction or trace the hacker responsible for the criminal act since crypto transactions are usually unanimous.
Hackers Can Steal Information From Your System
Hacking can result in the theft of important business information. If your computer contains critical information about customers or business clients, hackers who succeed in gaining access to your system can manipulate the information. Email addresses can be exposed to hackers, and they may use them for spamming and sending unsolicited messages to the email addresses.
Once the business information is stolen, it can be sold to other individuals who may have plans to launch further attacks or use the details fraudulently.
Risk Of National Security
Hacking can be a danger to national security in some instances. A computer with sensitive information about national defense, security, and confidential government data can be at risk of exposure if hacked. In many cases, this type of hacking incident is carried out by sophisticated threat actors who are sponsored by governments.
The hacking of highly sensitive data can potentially risk national security, putting the general well-being of the citizens at great risk.
This is one of the most dangerous threat actions that affect systems. A denial of service attack is used to overwhelm a network, causing it to remain unavailable to legitimate users or crash completely. In a lot of cases, websites become victims of DDoS attacks when they are made unavailable for an extended period, causing frustration and inconvenience to users and destroying the reputation of the website.
A hacker can compromise your computer and convert it into system zombies for fraud. The computer will be used remotely by the hacker to carry out all sorts of spamming and phishing activities while the user is unaware.
How To Know If You’re Hacked
Although some hackers do everything possible to stay undetected in a compromised system, there are some ways to find out whether your system has become a victim of a hacking incident.
Find out if your documents, credit cards, and personal account details are still accurate. If there has been a transaction that is unexplained or unknown to you, it could be that your system has been hacked.
Ways Of Protecting Your System Against Hackers In 2022
Some of the solutions cybersecurity experts have stressed are very obvious, but many users still fail to follow simple security strategies. Whether as an individual or as an organization, the following are some ways you can protect your computer against the onslaughts of these threat actors in 2022.
Get A Good Antivirus Software
Investing in good antivirus software is an obvious security step to follow if you’re looking to protect your system against hacks. Although some hackers are now using sophisticated tools to circumvent the security software, it’s still safer to have a strong antivirus tool to protect against most of the threats.
Use 2-Factor Authentication
Most platforms now have the option of securing users’ accounts using 2-factor authentication. This means even if the hacker has your account details, they must pass through an additional security protocol before gaining access. Whenever you are registering on an online platform, enable two-factor authentication to help offer more protection to your account.
Do Not Use A Single Password For Two Or More Accounts
Hackers who compromise an organization and steal passwords can use the details to gain access to other accounts. If you’re using a single password for more than one account, you are putting all the accounts at risk.
This is because if a hacker gains access to one of the accounts, they can easily access the other account as well. To prevent this type of scenario, it’s important to use unique passwords for each account you have online. you can install a password manager that can help you store all your passwords in one place for easy access.
Update Your Operating System Regularly
One of the ways to keep your computer safe from hackers is to regularly update your operating system. In most hacking incidences, the threat actors take advantage of a vulnerability that exists in one of the software you’ve installed in your system. As a result, it’s important to take a proactive approach when protecting your computer against unwanted interests by regularly updating your operating system.
Use Secure Use Firewall To Secure An Organization’s Network
A strong firewall will help to protect an organization’s network over any intrusion. Whenever there is unusual activity on the network, the firewall comes into action immediately, blocking any attempt by the threat actor to plant malware into the network.
Do Not Download From Questionable Sites
Another way hackers can plant malware into your system is when you permit them to do so. These permissions can come from simply opening an attachment in a mail you receive or downloading videos or files from a site. While your security software can alert you regarding malware, it may not identify these bots in some other cases. That’s why you need to be very careful when downloading files from websites or through emails you receive.
Hackers will always look for loopholes and opportunities to launch attacks on systems to gain access and steal sensitive information. While individuals and organizations become more effective in protecting their systems this year, threat actors are learning more sophisticated skills to stay on top of their game. As the year winds up, there will be more challenges for users to protect their systems against hacking activities.
You should understand that whenever you connect your computer online, you are exposed to hackers who are looking to pounce on any opportunity for their selfish gains. This makes it very important for users to be more vigilant and proactive when they go online with their systems. Use standard security protocols to keep your computer safe and avoid becoming the next victim from threat actors.