Jun 14, 2010, 06:22AM

8 Easy Ways to Get Hacked

Think you're safe? Think again.

Not all hackers are criminals. Malicious hackers, crackers, have malignant yet brilliant brains. Our lives revolve around technology that, if targeted, could be exploited to crack into your house and life. In a paranoid scenario, they could be out to get you or your possessions by these eight strange-but-true security threats. Social media is ruled by how many friends or followers you can score. Do you think of yourself as interesting, informative, or entertaining? Not such a peachy predicament if you pique the interest of a sicko or criminal mind and start to bleep on their radar.

Low-Tech Hacker: The Social Engineer:

Comments on social network sites can give real insights into your life. They are public info, same as your tweets, which are stored in the Library of Congress archives. Social engineering is not a high-tech hack. Most people reveal personal information through their public comments, information that can be used against you if targeted. Say you have a cat, "Fluffy" which is not one of your passwords but is instead one of your security questions to online banking. Perhaps the security question deals with the location of a relative or the best man at your wedding. You know better than to give out private info to a stranger, but how about to a friend? Your charming and funny friend "Bubba" on Facebook or another social media site could easily be a criminal. Social engineering criminals can pose as reputable job recruiter contacts or one of your best online buds. Besides your online banking, they can find out when you're gone and come in to burglarize your home.

Your Geolocation Is Not Private:

Oh bull, you think? You don't tweet your address so you are safe? Think again because your geolocation data is not private. A host of marketers have built profiles of your habits so they can better sell you localized services and products. What if you aren't hacked but they are?

Have you enabled geolocation through Twitter? You might not tweet your address or where you are going for vacation; but what if your geolocation changes while you are away from your home, using your phone or cyber cafe? Criminal hackers may be busy looking at real estate prices in your area to see if your house is worth their effort to rob. Discovering your real name can usually be accomplished with a simple search or by social engineering your real friend. With the bevy of door-to-door driving directions available online, thieves can be in and out of your home in a virtual heartbeat.

Even if you don't turn on geolocation via Twitter, your mobile phone is tracking you. Triangulating your position from cell towers is not easy but not impossible. And then there are "cool" services like FourSquare or Google Latitude that were developed to bleep your location to the Interwebs.  Nonsense, you say, they have to be your friend first? See #1, the social engineer criminal. You carry your phone everywhere. When you leave with your homing device phone; they could break into your house.

Your Passport:

A criminal network does not need to find you online first for you to become a target. Your passport carries a radio frequency ID chip embedded in it. This RFID chips allows passport officers to wirelessly transfer your information to a terminal. The range from which RFID readers can pull data is increasing. Let's say you’re traveling through an airport where a criminal is standing in the distance, scanning information from your passport's RFID chip. A malicious hacker with a network could send that information to another criminal closest to your home to steal valuables before you've even boarded your flight out of the country. If the United States passes laws to enforce a National ID card? You won't need to be a world traveler with a passport for this RFID opening into your life and your home.

Knock, knock on the backdoor: Using Your Router Against You:

Most people are intelligent enough to enable security protection on their home router. A hacker, however, does not need an open wireless network to access a router. Locking your router down with encryption will not stop most wardrivers. Not all are malicious intent crackers, but not all wardrivers are simply looking for wireless access to bleed your speed while they check their email. Some cyber criminals don't want to break into your home at all; instead they only want your online access. They can lock you out of your router, install software to use your connection for spamming or distributing porn, or for pirating music, movies, or software until their hearts are content. Explain that to your ISP copyright cops.

Your Web Cam:

It might not be favored possessions stored in your house that a criminal cracker wants. You could be the reason they want into your home. It's not difficult to spy on a person via their web cam or microphone. Malware can be inserted on reputable sites after being submitted to social media or RSS feed. Clickjacking, phishing . . . simply put, the software is not that hard to be installed on your computer. By using "curtain mode" your creepy attacker can spy to determine if you wet his or her sexual appetite.

Smart Grid:

Very soon, your house will be on the Smart Grid. Like all technology, the more it is developed and mainstreamed, more crackers will focus on exploiting security holes. Sure, it’s great to monitor your power consumption. But malicious masterminds will home in on Smart Grid technology. It could range from extortion like shutting off your power until you pay to have it restored, to stealing your electricity via remote-controllable and interconnected networks.

Your Printer:

If you have an older model printer, then access to that printer and therefore the printer head is all that it takes. The printer head can be installed on another printer to reveal the last several documents that you printed. It could be to steal sensitive business information or to steal financial records. Keep this in mind the next time you throw away an empty, "useless" cartridge or set it out to sell at a garage sale.

Your Bluetooth:

Technology makes life easier, but Bluetooth, like Wi-Fi, can be sniffed out. The data can be captured. While he likelihood of this happening to you is slim, the possibility is real and not simply improbable sci-fi scare tactics. What are you saying, doing, and transmitting? Does anyone really stop to ponder security when "talking" to a trusted friend or family member? If a criminal were eavesdropping, would they find you or your home an interesting target to be exploited?


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