5 Ways Hackers Gain Access To Your Data

Today’s digital data thieves are able to gain access to confidential business and customer data through an ever-increasing number of creative hacking schemes.

In order to prevent your company’s data from ending up in the wrong hands, appropriate security protocols and software should be in place. It also helps to understand a few of the more popular ways in which today’s hackers are gaining access to private information so that you can work proactively and train team members to be on the lookout.

Here are five of the more common ways digital thieves steal data:

#1: Phishing Scams

Email phishing is one of the oldest, and most successful, web hacking techniques out there. Perpetrators send out mass emails that appear to be an authentic communication from a bank, subscription service or online payment site. The email tells the recipients to verify their account information by clicking on a special link. Once people click the link and supply their login information, the hackers are able to divert money away from the account.

Approximately 0.4 percent of people targeted fall victim to these attacksThat might not sound like much, but if just 100,000 people receive a scam email, statistics tell us that 400 of them are going to fall for the scam.

Within your company, it’s important to provide ongoing training and education about these types of attacks. This is the best method for keeping employees from unintentionally providing information that could compromise your business network.

Another common phishing scam involves the hacker contacting a target and advising them that they have been the victim of a scam. The perpetrator offers to help the target and asks them for the very same confidential information – such as social security numbers and banking details – they are claiming has been stolen.

Remind team members to be on the lookout for suspicious e-mail attachments, pop-up screens asking for personal information, and hackers posing as authority figures looking for personal or confidential data.


#2: Buffer Overflow

Buffer overflow techniques are used by more sophisticated hackers who are able to gain access to customer data via online forms. The hacker navigates to an online form and proceeds to provide excessive data in a form field.

Simple security techniques are unable to respond when a large volume of data is input into an unexpected entry point.

The hacker might for example, be filling out a web form that asks for a zip code. The form is programmed to expect five to nine characters, but a knowledgeable hacker can actually break through the system with complex lines of code that are designed to either steal data, cause damage, or provide the hacker with an alternate point of entry.

Modern subscription-based cloud security services employ unified threat management (UTM) technology that helps identify and stop such attacks to keep proprietary data safe and sound from these types of attacks.

#3: Password Hacking

The use of overly simple passwords and/or not changing the password that came with your computer, modem or Wi-Fi router is one of the easiest ways you can prevent this type of hacking. There are websites that provide default usernames and passwords for various models of routers, so it’s simply a matter of trial and error for a motivated hacker to discover which router your company is using, and then type in the default password. Change all default passwords when you acquire new equipment and software, and train your team to change network passwords on a regular basis.

The most secure passwords are ones that use a combination of letters, numbers and special characters. And while it may seem inconvenient, passwords should be changed every 30 to 60 days to keep your business network safe.

While instituting a strict company password policy is a sound business practice, it is not always enough. However, using a cloud-based data protection system in addition to this type of policy is usually enough to keep a business safe. A simple subscription-based service can provide you with worry-free cyber security protection for a remarkably affordable price per month.

#4: Downloading Free Software

Downloading free software is almost never a good idea for business owners.

Whether you are looking for a freeware or shareware version of Microsoft Office or accounting software, consider that by going the free route you are potentially introducing malware, viruses, or “buggy” software into your system.

Teams of programmers that may not have your best interests at heart are usually the ones designing and offering free or cheap software. So unless you know that software is absolutely safe, it’s best to spend the money for a tested commercial version.

#5: Fault Injection

Also known as “fuzzing,” fault injection is one of the more complicated web hacking techniques where criminals research ways to infiltrate your source code and then try inputting different code to see if they can crash the system. An example would be a hacker using a database query that could erase content, or typing in a Web URL that delivers a worm into your network.

Some companies choose to pay “white-hat” firms to test their systems using different fault injection techniques. Prototype-based fault injection tests a system either at the hardware level or the software level by introducing a corruptive element to your network. “Black-hat” techniques, which are what hackers use, generally revolve only around attacking software.

These types of attempts can be recognized through analysis by the UTM found in some cloud services. With a single cyber attack costing businesses an average of $300,000, it’s imperative that all business owners get ahead of these types of threats with precautionary security measures.
While no company is ever 100% safe against cyber-attacks, there are strong defenses that can be put in place to either stop a threat in its tracks or deter would-be hackers from spending their time trying to overcome additional layers of security.