Statistics show that close to 317 million new malware programs are created in a year, which translates to about 1 million new cyber-threats released each day. Even more interesting to know is that in most cases hackers relied on bugs that have been there since 2002.
With so much hacking going on in the cyber space, it’s wise to invest in your computer’s integrity so as to prevent unscrupulous people from gaining access.
Keeping your computer safe from hacking in the digital age
One of the most recent crypto-crime trends involves Monero, whereby hackers use a code to secretively install illegal Monero miners on unsuspecting internet users around the world. Additionally, some websites can be hacked and fitted with a program that can mine the cryptocurrency from visitors’ browsers. As a user, you can know that your computer has been affected if it starts to run slower than it usually does.
Usually, most targets are unaware that their PC has been compromised, unless they can recognize the occasional performance slowdown or closely assess their electric use. Victims may find it difficult to recognize that there’s a problem since unlike other hacking attempts here there are no ransoms, no stolen personal information and no stolen passwords. This virus can affect Windows servers, Android devices, laptops and IoT connected devices, none of them is safe.
New hacking trend:
Cryptomining is quickly replacing ransomware as the online crime of choice among hackers, mainly because it’s profitable and relatively easy to mount. In this new model, attackers aren’t penalizing victims for opening attachments or running malicious scripts any longer. Now they are taking advantage of infected systems for virtual currency mining.
Being a newer cryptocurrency (compared to Bitcoin) and one that continues to experience an upward trend in value, Monero has particularly been targeted by attackers looking for quick profits in an anonymous way. The Monero mining botnet is quite large and relies mainly on Windows servers spread across the world.
Nowadays, there are many websites that give users corrupted apps for free. These applications may contain bugs that can be used by criminals for theft. To protect yourself from such attempts, it’s advisable to download them from official websites or the Google/iOS app stores. You can also buy a license which is ultimately the best option, given that it’s safe, updates are done automatically and can also be synchronized with multiple devices.
In a recent study, it was found that there were about 2 billion smartphone users worldwide who contribute to an estimated 200 billion mobile app downloads. Given these massive numbers, it’s easy to understand why mobile apps have become the new frontier for hacking.
Likewise, phone advertising has made it possible for smartphone users to download various popular apps for free. However, these free mobile apps have ad libraries where data gathered from regular use of the app is kept. This information includes location and contact lists which can be shared to other 3rd parties without your knowledge, thus posing a security risk.
If you’re visiting a site that automatically gives you some software to download or save, then chances are high that it’s been compromised. In fact, statistics show that Google quarantines around 10,000 websites per day through its Safe Browsing technology. This translates to roughly 1pct of all online websites being hacked or infected.
Most vulnerable websites are attacked by a malicious code that redirects users to another compromised site. Furthermore, there’s the injection cyberattack that relies on installing data into a site so as to execute a malicious code. This is then triggered when a user visits the compromised site.Any type of website can be infected by the injection malware, be it a business, education or government site.
Once a compromised page has loaded on your browser, the script will wait for 10 seconds before activating the code which will ultimately run additional scripts. These can be used to collect browser information such as your URL address, Host IP and Shockwave Flash version that may further be used to launch an attack.
Studies show that 95% of website owners can’t confidently address today’s software vulnerabilities, even program developers are unable to keep track of the threats that their own code can introduce. Hackers often take advantage of such soft spots in technology to launch their attacks undetected.
Usually, software vulnerabilities extend past the website itself and may also affect other things such as the web server and infrastructure. In essence, anywhere there’s a computer system there’s also the potential of software vulnerability which can extend to your Chrome, Firefox and Internet Explorer browser.
Check if someone’s been using your computer
If you see that certain documents have been edited but you don’t remember doing it or something is unusual, take in to account the option that someone has hacked your computer and is using it remotely. You can check the browser history or the recent edits of a document or view Windows events log. A great post on how to do this can be found here.
How to protect your computer and data from hacking
Run anti-malware software
If you own a PC, it’s advisable to perform a complete scan regularly using Malwarebytes. This security program uses various proprietary systems that work mutually to disrupt the cyberattack chain, right from pre-delivery to post-execution.
Malwarebytes can protect you from the most complex (zero day) threats, it combines aspects of anti-malware, anti-exploit, malicious website protection and anti-ransomware all in one. The system consists of heuristics algorithms and advanced detection methods, including a Ransomware Protection that uses signature and behavioral-based detection methods to discover ransomware and alert the computer user. This software is a great addition to the usual Windows firewall and we recommend to use them together at all times.
Guard your own data when online
As a web user, be keen to know the conditions provided in the permissions of mobile apps before allowing them access to your phone. Most people aren’t aware of these stipulations and this may potentially cause security risks.
As a safety measure, always stay aware of the data that apps take from you, even the most popular ones such as Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Instagram. Additionally, make use of security tools that are available on your computer and browser.
Nowadays, people are also using Application Hardening as a technique to reduce vulnerability exploit surface, and also protect themselves from fingerprinting attempts by hackers.
Use strong passwords
Like we said in a previous article, using strong passwords it’s the first step towards securing your data. Websites like strongpasswordgenerator.com or passwordsgenerator.net are just two of the many choices where you can get a very strong password in just 5 seconds.
Use a VPN
Using a VPN can help you ditch a lot of problems and keep your identity protected. They are simple to use and recently have got a lot cheaper (Yay for competition). So just spending a couple of bucks every month can give you a lot of comfort and assurance that your activity is unknown to others and keep you safe online. If you don’t know where to start, be sure to take a look at our post for the Best VPN’s in the market.
In conclusion, computer hacking is rapidly gaining prominence around the world, with hackers inventing even more advanced malware with time. Therefore, as a web user it’s recommendable to stay ahead of cybercriminals by applying tough security measures on your PC.