Top 10 Hacking Methods in Recent Times
The coronavirus pandemic introduced immense changes to human interactions. Post-COVID, many people are now relying on online systems to carry out most activities. As a result, businesses are developing online pivoting strategies and boosting their presence on online platforms. Also, human activities such as communication, networking, and even mundane ones like grocery shopping take place online now more than ever.
While this introduced ease in transactions that was absent a few years ago, it has also brought challenges. The commonest is the several cyber security threats and challenges that have plagued individuals and businesses beginning from 2020. To put things in perspective, according to the FBI, the number of data breaches climbed from 197 million in 2017 to 37 billion in 2020. In addition, cybercriminals are innovating, developing more sophisticated strategies to ensnare unsuspecting individuals. Several reports have dubbed 2020 the year of the digital pandemic. This acknowledges the widespread cyberattacks that individuals faced within that period.
Security challenges flourish where human error and ignorance abound. In addition, most of these attacks are repetitive. Thus, anticipating and learning the patterns of these attacks could be an effective preventive mechanism.
This article itemizes the top 10 hacking methods most hackers have deployed in recent times. Going through them will indeed prepare you to take them head-on in the future.
Popular Hacking Methods
Below, we itemize and discuss some of the popular and most recent hacking techniques cybercriminals are wont to employ:
Malware Injecting Devices
Malware refers to various types of malicious software designed to disrupt the normal functioning of a device. They can infiltrate, take control of, or spy on a device. Infecting a device with malware is one of the easiest ways hackers gain access and spy on individuals. Expert reports reveal that ransomware attacks (a form of malware attack) have increased by almost 800 percent since 2020.
Malware infestation can affect both individuals and businesses. In fact, even huge corporations are not immune to malware attacks. For instance, Microsoft was the victim of a ransomware attack not too long ago. Hackers took advantage of a chink in their operating system and displayed an error message to Microsoft users globally.
Malware gets injected into a device through various means, but the commonest is through malware-infected devices like USB sticks. In this scenario, the hacker plugs the device into your computer and introduces the malware. That gives them remote access to your device.
Phishing is a type of social engineering attack. Social engineering attacks attempt to trick a user into sharing their personal information by claiming to be someone the target trusts.
Phishing attacks come in different ways, but the most common ones are email phishing scams. Here, a hacker impersonates someone the target is familiar with and sends an email using that designation. The email usually requires the target to do something such as click a link, send money or download a document. Once the unsuspecting individual carries out any of the activities, they grant access to the hacker, who can then remotely control the device.
Verizon’s 2020 Data Breach Investigation Reports reveal that phishing attacks are the most popular cause of data breaches globally. Other reports state that more than 93 percent of all business data breaches originate from phishing attacks. For instance, those who gained access to Hilary Clinton’s emails and leaked some of them online did so using a phishing attack.
According to reports from Symatec Internet Security, 37 percent of phishing attacks use .doc attachments, while 19.5 percent of attacks use .exe attachments.
To forestall attacks, it is important for businesses and individuals to be wary of emails that require them to download unfamiliar attachments or click on weird links. It is also necessary not to share private information with third parties unless you are sure of the identity of the person you are conversing with.
Bait and Switch
This is a hacking technique that is as old as time. However, the fact that individuals still fall prey to it speaks to its effectiveness. In this technique, the hacker offers the target something they want and then swaps it out for something else. Thus, they draw you in with the bait and then change it to something different when you are not looking.
The hacking attack follows the basic principle described above. However, its manifestation varies. For instance, bait and switch attacks are often carried out on popular websites. Here, the hacker acquires an advertising space on the website. They provide legitimate details to the administrators of the sites. However, once anyone follows the advert link, it leads them to a site where they meet malware.
Similarly, another variant of this attack is bobby trapping apps with malware. Attackers front apps they know most users will be only too glad to download. They lace these apps with malware. Thus, when the target downloads and installs the apps, malicious code or malware enters the target’s device. This is one of the easiest ways to introduce malware to a person’s device.
In this scenario, businesses and individuals ought to be careful about the apps and widgets they download. It is always safer to download apps from an authentic app store. Unfortunately, third-party sites almost always host compromised apps.
Denial of Service/Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) Attacks
DDoS attacks are some of the most popular kinds of attacks hackers employ. The cybercriminal will attempt to break through a system by overloading it with login attempts and data requests. DDoS attacks are reported to have increased by almost 50 percent between 2019 and 2020. The surge was mostly experienced soon after the pandemic.
This is a fairly sophisticated kind of attack. Hence, cybercriminals who employ this technique go in for the kill. Thus, one form of the attack is known as a buffer overflow attack. Here, the hacker gains access to people’s personal information by spamming online form fields with irrelevant data. This causes the site to freeze, allowing the hacker to gain access. There is also the basic attack form where the hacker just floods a network with huge traffic, causing the system to fail and become porous to the attacker.
DDoS attacks are often hard to detect because they can be difficult to distinguish from regular traffic. However, if you notice a high traffic inflow, you may want to pause everything altogether till you are sure all is safe. Furthermore, DDoS attacks typically occur on systems that are already compromised by malware. Hence, to arrest such attacks, business owners must detect and fend off malware infestation quickly.
Man-in-the-Middle (MitM) attack is a hacking technique a lot of bad actors employ these days. This kind of attack occurs where a bad actor intercepts communication between two points. Thus, in a typical scenario, an attacker could wedge themselves between two unsuspecting parties trying to communicate online either via emails or other means. The hacker could then intercept the messages, modify them, send wrong feedback to the other party, or simply spy on both parties without their knowledge.
MitM attacks are more ubiquitous these days because a lot of employees are working remotely. A report reveals that up to 20 percent of all American employees will be operating remotely by 2025. This high level of remote work also means that the employees get to rely on online systems more to keep in touch. This increases the possibility of such attacks.
One of the ways of preventing MitM attacks is through using Virtual Private Networks (VPNs). Having such mandatory measures in place in the workplace will ensure that employees only use encrypted communication channels. This effectively shuts out third parties and criminal elements.
This is a form of brute force hacking technique cybercriminals employ. A criminal here can only attack one device at a time. This is not an efficient strategy, but hackers still employ it.
In a typical password spraying attack, the hacker breaks into a person’s device by guessing their passwords. Typically, the hacker will begin with popular passwords like “123456” and “password”. When this is not successful, they try other details, most of them peculiar to the target.
Even though these sorts of attacks are tedious and inefficient, they are quite common these days. According to Verizon‘s 2020 Data Breach Reports, 80 percent of all hacking attempts involved brute force techniques such as password spraying. This is a pretty high number.
To protect against password spraying attacks, you should use password generators and authenticators. Similarly, the NIST has a password guideline that lists some of the best password standards in the world. Adhering to this will ensure that you stay away from any form of cyber security attacks.
Vulnerable Security Patches
Outdated software provides an easy means for hackers to target and infiltrates users’ devices. The hacking landscape has gotten really sophisticated. Thus, even with frequent updates, cybercriminals could still hack your device and use your data. However, the possibility of a successful attack increases the more outdated the software on your device is.
According to EdgeScan’s Vulnerability Statistics Report, 18 percent of network-level attacks result from unpatched applications.
This is probably the easiest hacking technique to pre-empt and prevent. You just have to be conscientious with updating your software periodically. When a software company releases updated versions of their applications, it is because they believe that there is something wrong with the old one. Thus, failing to immediately implement the changes leaves you vulnerable.
You can also decide to automate the process. For example, most applications have the ability to be automatically updated once a new version is released. You can engage this setting so that immediately an update is released; your application gets updated.
Wireless Access Point (WAP) and Watering Hole Attacks
Hackers also target and attack unsuspecting users using fake WAPs. Ideally, in such a situation, the hacker sets up a fake WAP. A WAP is like a WiFi hotspot. Hence, anyone who connects to it gives the hacker immediate access to their device and online data. Thus, a cybercriminal could intercept, monitor, or corrupt the data of such a user.
Similarly, a hacker could open a bogus website. This is known as a watering hole attack. Unsuspecting users who visit such websites are vulnerable and can be targeted and attacked by hackers. For example, in May 2021, a watering hole attack was used to target a Florida Water utility plant.
These two types of attacks are often very successful because they are easy to implement. An unsuspecting user just has to visit an innocuous-looking website to have their device infected with malware. More so, it is an easy way to get a lot of unsuspecting individuals together (this is also why it is called a watering hole attack.)
One way to mitigate such attacks is to use a Virtual Private Network. A VPN encrypts users’ traffic, making it impossible for the hacker to decrypt your traffic at any point whatsoever. Similarly, using malware detectors and antivirus software could also be effective bulwarks against these types of attacks.
Keylogging is one of the oldest yet effective hacking techniques cyber criminals employ. In most cases, bad actors employ keylogging in conjunction with spyware. A keylogger monitors and records the strokes you make on a keyboard. Some sophisticated spyware can also record the clicks and the movements of your computer’s mouse.
This way, the hacker gets access to sensitive information such as passwords and pins. The hacker could then use the information obtained this way to hack into a person’s account and carry out any number of activities.
Keylogging attacks are so successful because individuals often employ the same passwords for different accounts. Hence, when a hacker breaches one password, they gain access to several accounts at the same time. In July 2021, Check Point’s research ranked a popular keylogger software, Snake Keylogger, as second in its list of most prevalent malware.
To guard against this attack, you could use on-screen keyboards that scramble each input you make on your actual keyboard. This way, if there is spyware on your device, it will not record your activities. Even when it does, the information it collects will be inaccurate.
Physical breaches are the rarest kinds of techniques. Earlier, we had discussed the malware-injecting technique. Here, the bad actor introduces malware to a person’s lap using an external hardware device. That is a form of physical breach. However, many others still exist.
With the possibility of workers becoming fully remote, the possibility of physical breaches escalating is not far-fetched. This is because most workers will stay away from their offices. However, if no adequate security is provided for devices left in physical buildings, hackers could breach them and carry out attacks. In fact, a report reveals that from 2021 and upwards, businesses could experience an increase in hacking attempts that feature physical breaches. In any such attack, the bad actor gains access to the target device, introduces the malware, gathers data, or steals the device totally.
To prevent such attacks, organizations and individuals need to provide better security for their devices.
Can iPhones Be Hacked?
Apple devices have the reputation of being almost-impenetrable. Thus, most users purchase an iPhone because they intend to stay safe when using their various iPhone models. However, how true is the assertion that iPhones are impenetrable? Can iPhones be hacked?
The short answer is yes. However, you should be aware of some things. Firstly, every internet-enabled device can be hacked, whether it is an iOS or Android model. With determination, skill, and time, a hacker can break through the security features any device employs. Furthermore, on the comparative, an iPhone has stronger security features than other mobile device models. Finally, you could actually be opening yourself up to security breaches on your iPhone.
Several conditions could make your iPhone susceptible to a hack. Firstly, jailbroken iPhones are more likely to be hacked than others. Jailbreaking an iPhone is the process people employ to have their iPhone accept non-Apple-approved apps. Folks who do this fail to realize that they could be hurting themselves in the long run. This is because jailbreaking your iOS device tampers with the default cybersecurity features it comes with. This makes your security porous, making it easy for a hacker to attack you.
Furthermore, other actions such as accepting compromised emails, visiting unsafe websites and WiFi networks, and even employing weak passwords compromise your security. Hence, employing simple cyber security tips will reduce the possibility of an attack on your iPhone. When you combine great security practices with the internal security features your iPhone comes with, you severely limit the possibility of an iPhone hack.
With the march of the world towards more digitalization, cyber security threats will continue to materialize. Thus, preparing for such attacks is the best thing you could do for yourself. This account looks at some of the most popular hacking techniques employed by hackers in recent years. Learning about them will help you take the appropriate measures to stay protected.