How Hackers Obtain Personal Data
There are several ways in which hackers can obtain your personal information. While hackers sometimes use highly sophisticated methods to get private information, sometimes it’s as simple as exploiting human error.
Social engineering schemes are the most commonly used hacking method. They are defined as “the use of deception to manipulate people into divulging confidential or personal information that can be used for fraudulent purposes.”
Two of the most common types of social engineering are phishing and baiting. In a phishing attack, a hacker impersonates legitimate emails, forms, and websites of reputable companies to lure people into providing private information, such as credit card numbers.
While phishing often involves your email account, baiting is when a hacker places a malware-infected item, such as a flash drive, in a visible location and takes advantage of human curiosity to gain access to a company’s network or the victim’s computer.
Hackers can also gain access to your network by trying various accounts for weak passwords. For example, since most companies use the same format for employees’ email addresses, a simple search will already give a hacker half of the information they need to access a necessary account, such as an email account.
The hacker can then try common passwords like “abc123” or search online for information commonly used to create passwords, such as pet names or children’s names. Employees’ emails are linked to many vital company accounts. Using weak passwords gives hackers the keys to a treasure trove of company information.
Security Vulnerabilities in Networks
If a hacker is physically close to your company’s office, they can use tools like network scanners to search for security breaches in your network.
Once connected to a network, a network scanner can uncover PCs or servers with outdated firmware, find operating systems with vulnerabilities like missing antivirus software, and identify specific employees’ computers to know which ones to hack.
Port scanning tools can also be used to check if your network has insecure ports, which create security gaps. Besides open ports, network breaches can exist in various places, such as your physical hardware (e.g., PCs), your network infrastructure, your firewalls and switches, your operating systems, applications, and data.
HR platforms. Email accounts. Sales databases. As a website, these accounts and more are often interconnected because they are linked to an employee’s email. If a hacker manages to gain access to just one of these company accounts, they could find the information to hack all of them.
If a hacker gains access to an employee’s email, they can send password requests for other accounts to the email and then change the passwords for all those connected accounts. Hacking an employee’s entire account and then the company’s network can happen in the blink of an eye.
What Information Hackers Take
When hackers take private information from your company, they look for specific information they know will generate profits. Financial information, such as the company’s credit card numbers and employees’ Social Security numbers, are the obvious choices as they directly lead to monetary gain.
While exploiting confidential patient files can also give hackers access to financial information, the information in these files can be used to blackmail a victim with the threat of publishing the information in the files. The files can also be held for ransom until a healthcare facility, which cannot serve patients without access to those files, pays.
In addition to these apparent options, hackers love to sell lists of mass company account logins. Since sometimes these logins are only partially accurate, they are sold in bulk so that the buyer is guaranteed at least some working accounts.
Selling a corporate email account login, for example, can allow the buyer to impersonate you and send fake invoices to your clients.
Types of Threats on the Dark Web
Companies concerned about security should worry about activity on the dark web. Because hackers and other malicious parties can freely communicate without real fear of interception, they may share best practices and new techniques that can be used to compromise companies and their networks.
Since monitoring and intercepting communication data on the dark web requires significant resources, companies may need to learn when vulnerabilities are discovered.
The gift card market is an excellent example of how information on the dark web can harm companies. Gift card fraud is common among hackers, and for many of them, it is relatively easy to accomplish.
Hackers don’t always need to compromise an entire gift card network because they can also target individual users to obtain account information (as in the case of reloadable gift cards). Gift card information is often sold online through dark web marketplaces, which can undermine the brand value and the value of the gift cards themselves.
Amazon, the world’s most valuable online retailer, was targeted in 2017 by criminals operating from the dark web. Hackers gained access to accounts of third-party sellers before distributing the information on the dark web. Sellers’ accounts were modified to redirect money to bank accounts controlled by hackers, and some sellers lost over $100,000 in revenue before Amazon detected how Hackers Obtain Personal Data.
There are various methods that hackers use to obtain personal information. While some hackers employ sophisticated techniques, others exploit human error to gain access to sensitive data.
Social engineering is a standard hacking method that involves deceiving people to obtain confidential information. Phishing and baiting are two prevalent forms of social engineering. Phishing attacks involve impersonating reputable companies through emails, forms, or websites to trick individuals into providing sensitive information, such as credit card numbers. Baiting involves leaving malware-infected items, like flash drives, in visible locations to exploit human curiosity and gain access to networks or computers.
Hackers can gain access to networks by exploiting weak passwords. For instance, if a company uses a standard format for employee email addresses, hackers can quickly obtain half of the necessary information to access important accounts. They can then attempt common passwords or search for personal information used in passwords, such as pet names or children’s names. Weak passwords make it easier for hackers to access valuable company information.
Security Vulnerabilities in Networks:
If a hacker is physically near a company’s office, they can use network scanning tools to search for security vulnerabilities. These tools can identify outdated firmware, operating systems with vulnerabilities, missing antivirus software, and specific computers to target. Insecure ports can also create security gaps that hackers can exploit.
Various company accounts, including HR platforms, email accounts, and databases, are often interconnected through an employee’s email. If hackers gain access to one of these accounts, they can use it as a stepping stone to compromise other accounts. By accessing an employee’s email, hackers can send password requests for connected accounts and change their passwords. This can lead to the rapid compromise of the employee’s entire account and the company’s network.
Types of Information Hackers Target:
When hackers target a company, they focus on obtaining information that can generate profits. Financial information, such as credit card numbers and employees’ Social Security numbers, is a prime target. Accessing confidential patient files can also provide hackers with financial information or leverage for blackmail and ransom.
Hackers also sell lists of mass company account logins, even if some of the logins are inaccurate. These lists are often sold in bulk, ensuring that the buyer gets at least some functional accounts. For example, selling a corporate email account login allows the buyer to impersonate the victim and send fake invoices to clients.
Threats on the Dark Web:
Companies should be concerned about activities on the dark web, where hackers and malicious actors can communicate without interception. On the dark web, they may share best practices and new techniques for compromising networks. It can be challenging to monitor and intercept communication data on the dark web, making it difficult for companies to detect vulnerabilities.
The dark web is notorious for gift card fraud, as hackers target both gift card networks and individual users to obtain account information. They sell this information on dark web marketplaces, undermining the value of gift cards and damaging brands. In 2017, hackers operating from the dark web targeted Amazon by gaining access to third-party sellers’ accounts and redirecting funds to their control. Some sellers suffered significant revenue losses before Amazon detected the fraudulent activity.
At Dapango, we know how vital the cybersecurity education that we provide to our clients is. By staying aware of these hacking methods, we actively contribute to making cyberspace safer by implementing robust security measures so individuals and companies can better protect their data from unauthorized access.