What Computer Hacking is Looking For in Your Computer 

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Computer hackers are constantly trying to gain access to individual’s computers via viruses, malware, email scams and other underhanded methods. What are these hackers hoping to find if they gain access to your computer? Does the average personal (or business) computer contain valuable information to make it a valid hacking target?

Many people take the “it happens to someone else” thought approach to hacking. They think about the activities they do on their computer (such as web browsing, document creation/editing and media consumption), and think to themselves that they have nothing of value on their computer and as such decide hackers would never “waste their time” trying to gain access to it. After all, surely the hackers are trying to break into a bank’s computer system or something similar!

This kind of thinking leaves computer users vulnerable to getting completely blindsided by hacking. Malicious code is often contracted passively and can sit for months or even years on a computer without being detected. Many of these exploits can be completed in seconds if a user installs a virus or malware by mistake.

There is value in every device to a hacker. Click below to read additional information, or read on to find out more:

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Packetworks specializes in providing businesses with internet and networking services, and is an expert in all things computer security. Contact us today.


What Are the Hackers Looking For On Your Computer?

It turns out that there are a great number of different “goods” on a computer that hacker can exploit to make money from. A fairly standard hacked PC can have the following information, or be used for the following nefarious means:

Email Information

  • Webmail spam

  • “Stranded abroad” email scam

  • Harvesting email contacts and accounts

  • Access to corporate email

Virtual Goods

  • Online gaming profiles for high popularity games

  • Online gaming goods/currency

  • PC game/software license keys

  • Operating system license keys

Reputation Hijacking

  • Access to social network accounts to post and message spam links to friends

Account Credentials

  • eBay/PayPal info

  • Online gaming info

  • Website FTP info

  • Skype/VOIP info

  • Client side encryption keys

Financial Credentials

  • Bank account data

  • Credit card data

  • Stock trading account data

  • Mutual Fund/401k account info

As seen by the extensive list above, the average computer can contain a lot of different information that a hacker could find valuable. It is highly likely that most computers have at least a few of the above elements stored on them.

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What Can Hackers Set Up Your Computer to Do?

Perhaps one of the scariest things that can happen isn’t found in what hackers can take from you, but rather what they can re-purpose your computer to do. Running either hidden programs (that can go undetected to an untrained eye) or full on “hostage” attacks on your computer, a hacker can cause some serious damage by repurposing your computer.

Web Server

Assuming the exploited PC has a decent internet connection, it can be setup as a web server to distribute various illegal, spam and/or black market information. This can include:

  • Phishing websites

  • Malware download sites

  • Piracy servers

  • Illegal explicit material servers

  • Spam sites

Bot Activity

Your computer can be configured to be a part of a botnet, a massive network of 100s-1,000,000s of infected computers that can be used to fulfil the botnet owner’s purposes. Oftentimes bot activity is very hard to detect by the user and the user’s computer can be a bot for years without the user knowing it. Below are just several of the terrible examples:

  • Spam bots

  • DDoS extortion bots

  • Click fraud bots

  • Anonymization proxy

  • CAPTCHA solving bots

  • Processing power to mine for bitcoin or other cryptocurrency

Hostage Attack

The most ‘in-your-face’ of hacks is a hostage attack. In a hostage attack, the hacker takes complete control of your computer, locking the owner out the computer, or certain parts of the computer, and asking for a ransom to unlock the locked parts. This kind of attack can take the following forms:

  • Fake antivirus prompts asking you to install various malicious code

  • Ransomware

  • Email account ransom

  • Webcam image feed

As seen by the above list, a hacker can repurpose your computer in ways that can be catastrophic to the productivity and integrity of your virtual information.

For more reading, click the following:

Keep Business Data Safe with Virtual Password Manager and Encryption

Five Simple Ways to Improve Business Network Security

Data Security for Small Business


Protect Your Computers

If your are a home computer user or an IT specialist in charge of a network of PCs, it is your responsibility to keep your network protected and safe. Do not assume that no one is targeting you.

 

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