Cybercriminals work overtime searching for ways to attack unsuspecting users. Since they work around the clock and are often bankrolled by a large communist government, there’s seemingly no way to stop them. In recent years, hackers have found ways to attack consumers not just in America but around the world. Below, are just a few of the ways that hackers can compromise your privacy and security:
- IoT devices like microwaves, DVRs and baby monitors
- Laptop and desktop cameras and microphones
- Computer portal devices
- Voice assistants like Alexa
- Smart doorbells/cameras
Is Your Smart Home System Infected?
The latest method involves your Smart Home System. It is convenient now to have a smart home thermostat, doorbell and front door camera. These are becoming more common in homes across the U.S. And often, these types of devices are fairly easy for cyber thieves to hack into. Many homeowners install these Smart Home Systems and leave the default password just as it is. They never go back and change this password to something new and original.
That makes it even easier for cyber criminals to hack into these smart home systems. Once they’re inside, they can use your technology in all sorts of embarrassing ways, including:
- One American hacker used the security cameras in a home to obtain nude photos of the females that lived there. These photos were then placed online where they were sold off to people looking for fresh porn.
- Cameras in your home and on your computer can be used to get personal information about you and/or your family. The hacker can then demand a ransom NOT to post this information online.
- Hackers can get into your smartphone and download your address book, then contact your friends and family urging them to buy something or visit an infected website.
Stealing Has Become Common
Cyber thieves will try to get your passwords, account names etc. for the purpose of breaking into your credit card and bank accounts. Once there, they can withdraw money or make fraudulent purchases. Hackers can buy remote access tools on the Dark Web for under $100. It’s just that easy to turn your life upside down and expose photos or recordings of conversations that could negatively impact your life.
Any place you have a camera or a microphone can be an avenue that hackers can exploit. So what can you do to protect yourself?
Checking for Infection
Though Hackers are pretty good at hiding and disguising their malware programs, there are a few telltale signs that you can look for:
- Camera light turns on for no reason. Your webcam’s indicator LED light turns on abruptly, especially when you’re using a popular app like Skype or Zoom. This is a sure sign that someone else is controlling the camera.
- Notifications from active monitoring. Real-time active monitoring apps can notify you when any application is trying to illegally gain access to some program. You must set this up beforehand, but it’s a great way to find out if some hacker is trying to use any of the microphones or cameras in your home.
- Unusual network traffic. Are you seeing programs using up excessive computer resources? You can check this using your Task Manager. Any app or program that is using a high amount of resources could be a hacker illegally taking control of the app.
Ways to Stop Hackers
Of course, the very basic methods include solid antivirus, anti-spam, and antimalware programs. Certain programs have the ability to check your system files, memory, plugins, and even your remote access tools to see whether an unauthorized user has hacked into your network.
Once your antimalware program detects a threat, you have two options: Delete it or quarantine it. Both will stop the hacker from being able to do any more harm. Please be aware that sometimes these programs will register “false positives.” They aren’t perfect so they may, at times, tell you that a program is infected when it isn’t. That makes it important to double check before deleting or quarantining a program.
The number one way to prevent attacks is to use strong passwords and change them every three months or so. In spite of all the warnings, many users still use simple to guess passwords like:
- Name + birthdate
82 percent of all consumers never change the default password to their DVR, router, Smart Thermostat, Smart Home Assistant, etc. Let’s not make it so easy for hackers to find us! Change all your default passwords right away and update all passwords regularly. Use a password manager to create very complex passwords that would take years for hackers to break.
A new report by security specialists Gemalto shows that 945 data breaches led to 4.5 billion data records being compromised worldwide in the first half of 2018. This included the Facebook breach which exposed about 2 billion user records.
How Long Will It Take a Hacker to Crack your Password?
To find out, you can run your passwords through any of the online password checkers. They can give you instant results. They’ll tell you how long it would take a hacker using brute force methods to figure out what your password is. Most people are surprised at how quickly thieves can obtain their passwords.
IT Consulting in Newark Can Help
With IT Support in Newark, you have someone to call if you suspect that your technology is being used against you. This is especially important for businesses owners. Once hackers have infiltrated your network, they can use your own computing resources for all kinds of nefarious tasks. They could be using your network resources to mine bitcoins, for instance.
Managed IT Services in Newark can help! Just call Partners Plus to schedule an appointment and a specialist will come out and check your computers, servers and other equipment. Plus, we can install a much stronger security perimeter around your business. We offer a full suite of managed IT services for the Newark area. We can put together a customized package of our services that will fit your business needs and your budget. Give us a call to learn more about managed IT services in Newark.
This is a constantly evolving challenge. Please feel free to reach out for more info or any feedback and we’ll help/update as needed.
Bill Hogan is the Owner and President of Partners Plus. He has over 37 years of experience in the tech industry, specifically IT network consulting for small and medium-sized businesses. Bill has spoken at seminars all over the country and published his latest book in 2018. Partners Plus has been selected by PHL17 as the best Computer and IT Support Company in the greater Philadelphia area.