With all of the various scams, viruses, and other plagues of the internet you may be wondering sometimes “Why hack my computer? What is so interesting about putting a virus or other malware on my machine? Do they really want to know what size toilet paper packs I buy from Amazon?”
There are quite a few different reasons why someone would want to maliciously have access to your computer. This list of reasons seems to grow almost every day. In this post I will try to give you a quick summary of the most popular reasons someone wants to get control of your computer.
1. Identity theft: This is probably number one. Normally this is achieved by installing malicious software called a keylogger on your machine without your knowledge. The keylogger essentially records all of your key strokes and sends that data to an anonymous server. The hope is that by looking at this data the thief can identify what websites you are visiting and also your user names/passwords. The best way to protect against this type of attack is up to date virus protection. It’s important to note the importance of the term up to date. Virus scanners rely on known file names and methods of attack in order to protect your machine. These variables change almost daily. If you are not up to date, your virus scanning software is only as good as the last update. Don’t let that lapse!
2. The addition of your computer into a “bot net”: A bot net is something that a hacker uses in order to execute malicious attacks on websites. This is generally accomplished by what is called a Denial of Service (DoS) attack. A DoS attack essentially overloads a particular web site or server by bombarding it with an enormous amount of requests to access it. The server cannot handle the amount of data being thrown at it so it essentially becomes unreachable. In order to carry out this attack a hacker must have access to a multitude of computers and internet connections. By hacking your system and placing a “bot” on it the hacker essentially gets the ability to order this bot to go to various websites. When the bot is not in use it generally just sits idle and occasionally reaching out to it’s “master” to gain instructions.
Most of the larger bot nets are actually tracked by third parties. Take a look at this threat map website from Looking Glass as an example. It shows in real time the bot nets and attacks that are live right now across the world. You might ask “if we can track it, why can’t we stop it?” This is mostly due to the fact the bots report to anonymous servers and they are well hidden in cyberspace.
3. Mining of Cryptocurrency: The latest way to make money on the internet is by the mining of cryptocurrency such as Bitcoin. Yes, I said mining. I don’t want to go into a lot of detail on how this works in this post but here is a link to a brief summary of the process. In a nutshell, you can create “free” cryptocurrency by putting your computer to work solving the incredibly complicated algorithms that make cryptocurrency work. In order to do that you need a lot of computing power at your disposal. One way to accomplish this is to load software on other people’s computers and have them “mine” in the background while your computer is connected to the internet. This process depletes your computer’s processing power which results in slowing it down considerably.
I hope this article helps clear some things up on why malicious hackers and thieves target your computer. Please feel free to leave any questions or comments below, and I would appreciate you sharing this article with your friends through social media to help expand my reader base.
Categories: ID Theft