Today, countless hackers are on the loose. These people are spreading computer viruses

through the internet. If you aren’t careful, malicious programs might infect your machine.

In this chapter, you’ll learn how to protect yourself from usual techniques and vectors that

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hackers use.

Prevent the Typical Attack Vectors

Hackers use the following vectors to lure victims:

Scams

It’s your lucky day. Someone from Nigeria needs your help in smuggling money from his

country. You don’t have to do anything difficult. You just have to conduct some wire

transfers and wait for the Nigerian to give you your share of the funds.

While checking the inbox of your email account, you saw a message saying you won a

contest. You just have to send some money for shipping and wait for your prize to arrive.

The situations given above are typical scams. You probably think that nobody would fall

for them. Well, nothing could be further from the truth. Thousands of people fall for such

tricks. Victims send money and/or confidential information to the hackers, hoping for a

quick benefit.

Think before reacting to any email. Scams work best against people who act quickly. If an

email says something that is too good to be true, ignore it. If the message asks you to give

personal information, report the email and tag it as spam.

Trojan Horses

A Trojan horse serves as a container for malicious programs. This “container” often

appears as an interesting or important file. Once you download a Trojan horse, its contents

will infect your computer. This technique is extremely effective in turning innocent users

into hapless victims.

In most cases, hackers use emails in sending out Trojans. They send a phishing email that

contains a Trojan as an attachment. The email will encourage you to download and open

the included file.

Some hackers, however, use social networking sites in spreading out Trojans. They post

videos with interesting titles. Once you click on the video, the webpage will tell you that

you must update your browser first if you want to view the content. Well, the “update” that

you need to download and install is a Trojan.

The best way to fight this hacking vector is by using your common sense and running an

updated antivirus program.

Automatic Downloads

In some situations, even up-to-date security programs are not enough. Your computer

might have one or more vulnerable programs that hackers can take advantage of. For

example, if you have an old version of a computer application, it may be vulnerable to

viruses.

Hackers exploit vulnerabilities present in a program by establishing a rigged website.

These people attract victims by sending out phishing messages through emails or social

networking sites.

Keep in mind, however, that hackers are not limited to their own sites. They can attack a

legitimate site and insert malicious codes into it. Once you visit a compromised site, the

inserted codes will scan your machine for vulnerable programs. Then, the codes will

install viruses onto your machine automatically.

You can protect yourself by keeping your computer applications updated. Software

developers release updates and/or patches for their products. Most programs can detect

whenever a new update is available. They will just ask you whether or not you would like

to update your program. Hit “Yes” and wait for the update process to complete.

Exploiting Weak Passwords

Fictional stories depict hackers as people who can guess passwords with ease. Real world

hackers, however, rarely use this method. They don’t even bother guessing their victims’

passwords. They use various methods to obtain that crucial information.

You can enhance your online security by using different passwords for different sites. For

example, the password of your Facebook account should be different from that of your

Twitter account. This way, your Twitter account will still be safe even if a hacker

successfully attacks your Facebook profile, and vice versa.

Using the same password for all of your accounts is extremely risky. When one of your

accounts gets compromised, the rest of your accounts will also be in danger. You don’t

have to use completely different passwords. It’s enough to add some characters to your

main password to create different variations.

A hacker might also try to answer your security questions. You can protect your account

by giving an answer that is not related to the question. This way, the hacker won’t be able

to access your account, regardless of how diligently he conducted his research.

Taking Advantage of Open WiFi

The term “open WiFi” refers to a wireless network without any form of encryption. That

means anyone can connect to the network and interact with the machines inside it. When a

hacker gets into your network, he will be able to view and record all of the things you do.

He may also visit restricted websites and/or download files illegally through your internet

connection. When that hacker does something illegal and gets tracked, the police will visit

you.

It’s important to set a password for your WiFi network. Make sure that the encryption for

your network is set to WPA/WPA-2. This encryption involves hashing, which makes

hacking an extremely difficult task.

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