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Cyber-criminals and hackers will go to go to great lengths to get access to your data.. but how and why do they do this?

At PCProtect we care about keeping you safe online, the more you know about what the threats are, the better protected you will be whilst using the internet. Within this article, we will cover the following

  • Who Are Hackers?
  • Who Do Hackers Target?
  • What Do Hackers Do With Stolen Data?
  • Who Are Hackers?

    Hackers in films and TV are normally portrayed as techie introverts, cracking codes to access classified data on someone’s computer. It’s not quite a true reflection of a typical hacker- who actually targets companies, not individuals. Hackers want to gain as much personal data from as many victims as possible and use this data for financial gain themselves, either directly or by selling it.

    Who Do Hackers Target?

    Hackers and cyber-criminals are not focused on whose personal information they can get their digital hands on - they just want it from as many people as possible. This is why hackers target huge businesses that have hundreds of thousands of customers. The main aim is to seek out a weak link in the security chain, the cyber parallel of an unlocked door. Once the hacker finds that single weak link, they’re in - they’ll take as much personal identifiable information as possible.

    What Do Hackers Do With Stolen Data?

    Once a hacker has access to data they begin the hard task of either using the data themselves or selling it via the dark web. Effects on bank accounts and online accounts may not be immediately apparent, but they can be serious. Strange, small, unrecognized transactions can be signs that credit card details have been compromised. It’s possible that a cyber-criminal is testing the water.

    Whether it’s a credit card number, social security number, or a PIN number, this compromised data can lead to identity theft or financial loss. Which is why it’s important to not undervalue email address and password breaches. Often, access to an email account is the gateway to a host of other accounts - either through requesting password resets or use of the same password across multiple websites and services. Your data is valuable to hackers and cyber-criminals.

    A list of email addresses is a valuable data list to a cyber-criminal. Once they have a legitimate email account, they can hit popular websites and try to log in using that email address and a common password. As you may know, many users still use weak passwords. This type of attack uses ‘scripts’ to try thousands of passwords every second to gain access.

    One password can sometimes gain access to many accounts. Many web users reuse the same passwords, and cyber-criminals know this. A different password should be used for each and every online account.

    Some people say they don’t have anything to steal and therefore aren’t a cyber-criminal target - think again if this is you. Cyber-criminals can still open new accounts or apply for loans in someone else’s name. Even if the criminal gets refused, ultimately it could be adversely affecting the user's credit rating. In summary, identity theft is a huge problem, and it is vitally important to stay secure online.

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