The most common hacking techniques and how to protect yourself from them
Cybercrime costs over $10 million every minute. It is projected to set the world back some $10.5 trillion annually by 2025. Data has become the gold of the digital economy revolution considering there will be 200 zettabytes of it by 2025.
And so, cyber-security has emerged as a critical issue affecting anyone with a digital presence. Massive data leaks, identity theft and extortion are just a few of the many problems plaguing the digital space.
Victims range from the often innocent and vulnerable to banks, multinational corporations, and powerful elites. Bangladesh is no stranger to cybercrime either.
That is why it is important to understand one’s digital presence now more than ever. The first step is familiarizing oneself with the hacking methods of cyber-criminals. Here are some of the most common hacking techniques to be careful of, what can be done to protect against such threats, and the measures Bangladesh is taking to securely ensure the digital dream.
Most common hacking techniques to be careful of and how to stay protected
Before getting into the most common hacking techniques, it is important to keep in mind that not all hackers are bad. While there are many malicious minds creating havoc, there are just as many digital guardians working tirelessly to help humanity for the best. The easiest way to tell between the good and bad is to differentiate between white hat and black hat hackers.
White hat hackers are the good guys; they are ethical computer security experts specialized in finding faults in systems that may expose your valuable data. Penetration testing is one of several ways white hat hackers can test and ensure the safety of a company or individual’s information system. They can be found employed among the ranks of Google, Microsoft, and Apple with the mission of keeping the digital space safe for everyone.
Black hat hackers are the bad guys; they are the ones stealing money and identities, leaking sensitive personal data, and facilitating illegal activities -- a few crimes topping the startlingly long list. Black hat hackers break into information networks using an arsenal of attacks, with malicious intentions. They can destroy businesses and ruin lives; according to IBM, “the average cost of a data breach was $3.86 million in 2020.”
Remaining anonymous while committing crimes is their specialty, and they can be found all around the world.
While the list for hacking methods is a long one, here’s a look at some of the most common hacking techniques used by black hat hackers to better understand how to stay alert and protected:
The hackers will have access to and use authenticated login information, passwords and mannerisms of their victims. Although many websites must now ask permission to accept cookies from users, businesses can take actions like ensuring web developers use the newest and most updated development techniques, as well as to update encryption protection on a regular basis.
Similarly to bait and switch, to stay safe, practice caution when downloading files or opening unfamiliar email attachments. Updated anti-malware software or applications can also help prevent these types of attacks.
It should be noted that nearly 80% of all keyloggers are not detectable by antivirus software or firewalls. The best measure against this is often seen in banking and e-commerce through virtual (on-screen) keyboards. These encrypt text or keys inputted so it becomes difficult for keyloggers to make sense of the stolen data.
The US has seen an increase in ransomware attacks and recently had to pay hackers to regain access to a critical US pipeline. In 2019, the healthcare industry lost nearly $25 billion to ransomware attacks. Having reliable and updated anti-virus software or applications from trusted industry experts is the best protection once again in this scenario.
Using quality VPN services is a smart choice in case you find yourself having to use or access free Wi-Fi. Try to ensure using a variety of unique but memorable passwords for all digital profiles.
Instead of outright stealing, hackers exercise a variety of techniques like using fear, trust, sympathy, greed, laziness and ego to get victims to willingly provide their information. This scenario can trick even the best into falling prey. Digital hygiene and appropriate education will be the most effective tools for combating such abstract challenges moving forward.
Bangladesh and its cyber-presence
As of January 2021, Bangladesh has registered over 47 million internet users. Among that figure, 45 million out of the 47 million users were on social media, as reported by Data Reportal. The number of mobile connections also saw an increase of 1.7 million (+1.1%) since last January.
These figures point towards one thing- growth. Bangladesh has been making strong economic progress despite the global pandemic. According to the IMF: “Bangladesh economy will grow 5.0% in 2021 and 7.5% in 2022.”
This growth will come opportunities and challenges alike, mainly addressing cyber-security. Bangladesh is still developing in many aspects and has a long road ahead.
About 95% of cyber-security data breaches are caused by human error. This is how Bangladesh became a victim of losing $81 million in a matter of hours. According to WIRED, in February 2016, a simple malware attack was used to initiate the Bangladesh Bank heist.
Unknown hackers used SWIFT credentials of Bangladesh Central Bank employees and sent more than three dozen fraudulent money transfer requests to the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. They asked the bank to transfer millions of Bangladesh Bank’s funds to bank accounts in the Philippines, Sri Lanka and a few other parts of Asia.
The hackers’ initial targeted amount was a whopping $1 billion. Thanks to a printer “error”, Bangladesh Bank was able to halt the heist of another $850 million. Although they were never able to recover the $81 million lost during the early stages of the heist, they were able to prevent potentially the biggest cyber heist in history.
This was a jarring wake-up call for Bangladesh and its cyber-presence. Since then, a number of cyber-security companies have been further developed alongside efforts being made by many students as well. We will bring brief focus to a few of such companies playing their part in building safer cyber-security.
This is a similar approach used in mobile data. Bonton’s machine learning models can be applied to moderating the application’s USPs. They are currently in the start-up stage, however similar concepts and proactivity are growing amongst the youth.
Staying safe in the digital age is more important than ever. Technology will only continue to become an increasingly integral part of human life, so being fluent with its uses and dangers will be essential.Education, training and transparency will be the most influential in effectively navigating these unexplored waters.
A few tips to remember: avoid using free Wi-Fi hotspots, avoid using apps from untrusted sources and ignore unexpected communication. Consulting friends or professionals in the field of cyber-security is also a great way to step out of the cyber shadows and into the digital light.
Bangladesh, albeit having to learn the hard way, will now be paving the path for a far more secure and digitally enhanced future. And considering that in 2021, there will be four million unfilled cybersecurity jobs globally, now would be a good time to polish off those cyber cobwebs.