As we’ve become increasingly reliant on interconnected, online-capable devices like computers, smartphones, and tablets, we’ve also become far more vulnerable to the whims of hackers. Hacking refers to any activity that seeks to identify weaknesses in a digital or network in order to gain access. This encompasses a wide range of tools and techniques, from simple phishing email scams to complex software programs capable of hacking into accounts without any direct human interaction.

Though not all hackers have malicious intentions (there are a number of “white hat” hackers who work with software companies to help improve their security), but given that that the average cost of a data breach is $3.92 million, it is important to take the threat of hackers seriously, especially as many hackers are attempting to take advantage of the current anxiety surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic.

From high-profile businesses to vulnerable individuals, anyone with a digital device and something worth taking is a potential hacking target. To combat these efforts, it is important to know how hackers attempt to violate your privacy.

Common Hacking Methods

Hackers can use a variety of methods to access online systems and get what they are looking for. Sometimes they will research a specific target and go after them, while others will create tools that actively seek out potential victims. Regardless, most forms of computer hacking are carried out through a few methods.

  • Viruses: Computer viruses are the most common hacking method. They are self-replicating programs that infect computers, then modify their operating systems to cause a They are typically attached or concealed in a downloadable file, and only become apparent when the host file is activated.
  • Worms: Worms are a subclass of virus that act independently of humans and do not need to be triggered by a host They will usually enter a system via a network or downloadable file, and once one is there, it will self-replicate and activate on its own.
  • Trojans: Short for Trojan Horses, these are seemingly benign programs that contain malicious code that can harm the device it is installed on. Whereas a virus is usually attached to a legitimate file, a Trojan will fake being a normal program in order to trick users into downloading and using
  • Ransomware: Ransomware is a specific type of malware that encrypts someone’s files and threatens to either publish their data or block access to it until a payment is
  • Bots: Bots are software applications that perform various automated tasks, often with the intention of taking over an affected Criminals will aim to infect hundreds, thousands, or even millions of computers with bots in order to perform large-scale malicious acts, creating what’s called a “botnet.” Infected bots are also sometimes called zombies. Bots tend to be light on resources and leave a small footprint, so the victim often isn’t aware of what they are doing.
  • Phishing: Phishing can be both a hacking method and a way for hackers to gain information necessary for a They will send seemingly valid requests from actual companies looking to verify your personal information, either through emails, phone calls, text messages.

Protecting Yourself from Hackers

Hackers are constantly updating their strategies and tools, making stopping them a constant challenge. As with most online threats, the best way to defend yourself from hackers is to improve your security methods and practice good internet etiquette. A few options that can help include:

  • Keep Your OS Updated: Recent fixes and patches often help to protect computers from new forms of malware, so check for updates regularly (or set them to download automatically).
  • Practice Good Browsing Habits: Always avoid questionable websites, block pop-up ads, and only download from trusted
  • Install Antivirus & Anti-Spy Software: Even the most cautious internet user can accidentally download something with a virus. Having an additional line of defense is
  • Make strong passwords: Don’t use obvious passwords or ones that feature personally identifiable info like your birthday, address, or Social Security Number. Avoid using the same password across multiple sites and A password manager can be helpful if you struggle to remember multiple unique passwords.
  • Be Wary of Free Wi-Fi: Open wi-fi connections can make your devices an easy target for hackers, so either be cautious when using them or avoid them
  • Create Regular Backups: If something does go wrong with your computer, having a backup ensures that you can save your most valuable
  • Invest in Online Filtering Software: Powerful software tools like those offered by Clean Internet

can help to block out many potential threats, greatly limiting your chances of being hacked.

If you’re looking to protect yourself, your business, or your family from hackers and other cyber-criminals, contact us at SUPPORT@CLEANINTER.NET or call (219)-728-5030.