Especially after someone has been the victim of a hacking attack, they want to know why. Hackers have many motives and trying to decipher their behavior is complicated. The classification of white hats, black hats, grey hats and such is an interesting attempt to legitimatize electronic spying and sabotage. Perhaps there are “good hackers” that perform a valuable service, but most attacks are malicious in nature. Generally, hackers want to take something from you, teach you a lesson or show their programming skills.
Taking something from you. This can be financial information, social media login and password, your time or your peace of mind. Many victims of infections that cause pop-ups with objectionable material are traumatized. They often react like the victim of a physical crime. Anyone that has been hit with difficult to remove malware knows that it can be time-consuming and expensive to remove the infection.
Teaching you a lesson. Hacking may have started as practical jokes that exploited vulnerabilities for pleasure and recognition, but it has grown into an industry that steals billions of dollars of productivity each year. The pranks of today can cause great harm, intended or not. A recent Twitter Prank illustrated how disruptive it can be to “play around” on the Internet. Some may find justification for causing disruption in that they are just exposing vulnerabilities, but it is harmful and illegal. Malware is vandalism.
The best defense is a good offense. Implement appropriate protections for your electronics. Computer or cyber security takes many of its strategies from the physical world. You use locks for your house and car. You may have an alarm system, but the amount of protection is related to the value of the property. For instance, Fort Knox has fences and armed guards that protect the fortress. You should use the same strategy to protect your computer systems – the more valuable the information, the more you should invest in protection.
Vulnerabilities, Threats and Consequences (VTC). Determine the assets to protect and then analyze the vulnerabilities, threats and consequences. Just like with your physical property, use your assessment of the risk to determine the protection. Start with a review of your firewall and make sure you have a good backup of your system. Backups are an essential part of a disaster recovery plan and are especially economical if you ever have to restore. Also, use a malware protector in addition to your spam and virus protection. You may want to double-up on the malware protection. For many companies, enterprise level protection is essential. Protection includes content filtering in addition to the essential spam, virus, spyware, adware and ransomware protection.
It is difficult to stay ahead of the hackers. There are so many of them and they spend a great deal of time working on the next attack. Certainly, if that effort was put to positive use, we would be on the way to solving world hunger. But meanwhile, use practical computer measures to protect yourself, your company and your family.