As we navigate the world of technology as professionals, we must remember that cyber threats are around every corner. The threats are real, and at the heart of these threats are the hackers themselves.
What motivates someone to become a “hacker”? Money usually, but other hackers are out there as modern-day Robin Hoods trying to expose some great “injustice,” such as what motivates the hacking group Anonymous. They have supported the Occupy movement in the past few years by showing police brutality toward protesters and they have gone so far as targeting ISIS, disrupting its recruiting through social media outlets.
The first use of the word hackers goes back to the 1960s on the campus of MIT. Those individuals mainly focused on computer programming and were not yet in the devious column.
However, by the 1970s that had changed. A hacker with the handle “Captain Crunch” figured out how to make free long-distance calls and from that point on, the term hacker carried the stigma of a sinister computer crook. During the 1980s the “414s” were a notorious hacking group that became one the first to be raided by the FBI and charged for computer related crimes.
The most common hacks in today’s corporate world are social engineering (phishing emails), compromised accounts (weak passwords), web-based attacks (SQL injection), and exploiting server updates (heartbleed).
Most entities have robust password protocols to assist with security as well as an enterprise-level firewall to keep bad guys out of the network. But all the technology in the world can’t stop a hacker who finds a sucker.
For example a common fraud of the moment is a hacker calling an office, then telling them that they are from Microsoft and they must run a critical update so let them log into the computer. I had a client say “OK” and guess what happened?
All of their data was stolen.
And guess again. Microsoft doesn’t call anyone to fix anything. It’s hard enough to get them to fix something by trying to call them. If you think a call might be suspect, it usually is. As Fox Mulder liked to say on the “X-Files”: Trust no one.
Lastly, I will reference white-hat hackers. These brilliant folks have seen the light and are actually hired by the government and corporate America to try to hack into systems and identify vulnerabilities so they can be corrected. That would be the opposite of black-hat hackers whose intent is to wreak cyber havoc.
As you head into 2016, keep the thought of hackers on the top of your mind because the the cyber threats and hacking will get worse before it gets better.
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Blake Dowling is chief business development officer at Aegis Business Technologies. His technology column is published by several organizations. Contact him at email@example.com or at www.aegisbiztech.com. Column courtesy of Context Florida.