9 New Ways You Can Be Hacked


Do you know all the ways you can be hacked? My guess is you don’t.

Forget about malicious emails and vulnerable public Wi-Fi, today’s hackers are far more sophisticated and can target consumers in ways they’ve never imagined. From home alarm systems to mobile apps, hackers are able to compromise a wide selection of devices that can expose average people to serious online threats.

Cyber-crime has evolved to become a major global industry valued in the billions of dollars, so it’s important for consumers to keep a close eye on the latest hacking developments that could help criminals hijack their devices. Between the rise of mobile computing (smartphones, tablets, wearables, etc.), the coming wave of connected appliances and devices (i.e., the “Internet of Things”) and the enormous growth in online consumer data, from stored credit card numbers to electronic medical records, consumers have never been a more valuable target for the criminal underground than they are today.

Black Hat, one of the world’s largest annual hacker cons, kicks off Aug. 2 in Las Vegas. Many of the hacks that are unveiled at this conference will be used by criminals shortly after - so consumers should pay close attention to this event.

Here are nine new hacks that could soon target consumers:

Personalized DDoS. Until now, denial-of-service attacks (DoS/DDoS) have primarily been a problem for banks, retailers and tech sites. However, new research suggests they could soon happen to regular people, too.

New attacks on internet modems and Wi-Fi routers could knock them offline for extended periods of time, frustrating consumers trying to log onto the internet. With the rise of online extortion, this type of attack could become more visible in the next couple of years as hackers threaten to disrupt service unless they’re paid a ransom.

When Apps Attack. Malicious apps are a real and growing threat—and the attacks are going to get much worse.

Researchers have found that apps could potentially jump out of the “sandbox” that Apple, Android, and others use to ‘wall off’ apps from each other and protect the smartphone itself from hackers and viruses. Once out of the sandbox, a malicious app could attack other apps or infect other parts of the phone to steal information and spy on us.

No Such Thing as ‘Safer’ WiFi. Public Wi-Fi hotspots make users extremely vulnerable to hackers, which is why consumer advocates have been suggesting 3G mobile hotspots instead.

However, researchers have recently found that 3G mobile broadband modems could also be vulnerable. Hackers don’t even have to be within range of the wireless signal to launch an attack, it can be done remotely over the internet.

Thumb Drive Malware. While it’s been known for years that thumb drives can easily spread computer viruses, a new type of thumb drive malware is even more alarming - it hides in the thumb drive’s controller chip and can’t be detected by current anti-virus or anti-malware tools. It can also hijack a computer to steal information or spy on the user.

Digital Home Invasions. Over the past couple of years, we’ve seen an alarming trend where hacker techniques are used to help with “traditional” crimes like burglary. Here’s the bad news: This trend is likely to continue.

In particular, several popular home alarm systems have now been found to be vulnerable to multiple hack attacks, including remote disabling, creating false alarms, intercepting the user’s passcode and tracking people in their homes.

The Threat of ‘Bricking.’ In 2012, the world’s biggest oil company was hit by a special type of computer virus that “bricked” 30,000 of its computers--making them completely inoperable (like a ‘brick,’ hence the term).

Brick attacks are relatively rare these days, but that may not be the case for long. New research has found a number of ways that hackers can hijack a crucial part of the computer that controls the “boot up” process and other basic functions. Hackers can use this type of attack to render a computer completely unusable, which could end up costing the consumer hundreds or even thousands of dollars. But that’s not all - hackers can also use this attack to infect the computer with a virus or trojan that would be almost impossible to fully remove.

Spying on Your Facebook Page. Even the most strict privacy settings on social networks might not keep your information safe from prying eyes. New research has found that Facebook and other social media sites are vulnerable to “impersonation” attacks that allow a hacker to get unauthorized access to your photos and other information, which means nothing you upload to Facebook may be truly safe.

Password Sniping. Complex passwords on your smartphone or tablet are helpful, but not if the hacker sees you typing it in. New research has found that hackers could use Google Glass, a smartphone camera or webcam to record your keystrokes and then accurately correlate your finger movements with the password you entered.

Fake Websites. The next time you visit an online bank or another prominent website like Google.com, PayPal.com, Amazon.com, etc. how will you know for sure that it’s the real thing? Researchers have found serious flaws in the way the web authenticates well-known websites that could allow attackers to replace legitimate sites with fake ones designed to infect your computer and steal your information. This is particularly concerning for banking and e-commerce sites, which could be faked to steal your money.

About the Author:

Dave Chronister, founder of Parameter Security, is a white hat hacker who is hired by Fortune 500s, banks, retailers and other organizations to try to break into their networks to prevent criminal attacks. www.parametersecurity.com