Hacking and data breaches are always a hot topic. According to Statista, the number of attacks on the web blocked every day between 2017 and 2018 alone increased by 56.1%. That’s more than half in a single year – according to Security Magazine, there were more than 4,000 publicly disclosed breaches that exposed over 22 billion records in 2021 alone – what if we told you that many more data breaches go undisclosed? There is a very big probability that ten or twenty data breaches went undisclosed this week alone!
Whenever data breaches are discussed, hackers seem to get all of the attention. However, a question that’s probably as old as the hackers themselves would be just what exactly constitutes a “hacker”? Read on to find out!
What is a Hacker?
Contrary to popular belief, the term “hacker” is not necessarily always a technical term – a “hacker” is simply someone who does something in a way that’s not considered to be “popular”: have you ever stirred your coffee with a fork? You’re now a hacker!
However, nowadays the term is mostly associated with computers and software – in this realm, a “hacker” is anyone (the term can be used for both males and females) who accesses a computer system without authorization. Hackers can have multiple types – called hats in this sphere – too – there are “white hat” hackers, “grey hat” hackers, and “black hat” hackers. The colors of their hat depict whether they’re good or bad – white hat hackers use their cyber security-related skills for the good, while black hat hackers use them to wreck havoc on pretty much any computer system that gets in their way. There are also grey hat hackers that dabble somewhere in between – such people usually don’t mean to do harm, however, their actions are questionable: they may breach a system in order to alert an owner of the system that it’s vulnerable and do other questionable things.
Then there are also script kiddies – they’re the people that almost exclusively employ scripts created by other people to carry out attacks. Contrary to popular belief, script kiddies can be just as dangerous as skilled hackers because they employ the same cyber security tools used by skilled cyber-crooks – the only difference between them is that most of the time, script kiddies have close to no technical knowledge.
Some black hat hackers may be so “elite” that they start to operate in organized cyber-criminal gangs, but they’re more of an exception rather than the norm and they all usually land behind bars pretty quickly.
Protecting From Hackers
Now that you know what hackers are, it’s time to protect yourself, your team, and your applications from them. Follow these basic steps to make sure you start off on good footing security-wise:
- When you find yourself responding to emails, ensure they’re from the sender that you really think they are. Check the email address of the sender by hovering over it, and if the email appears suspicious (e.g. has many grammatical errors, pressures you to visit a certain website, etc.), please forward it to the security staff within your organization. Also, consider using “link unmasking” plugins that show you where URLs in emails and other mediums take you before clicking on them and embarking on the journey – they will save you a lot of unnecessary headaches.
- Consider protecting your network and browsing via VPN if you’re connected to a public Wi-Fi network – a VPN provider encrypts your data meaning that even if anyone is considering snooping into it, they won’t see what you’re doing! That’s far from the only benefit provided by VPN services though – one of their benefits is the ability to hide your location and make it appear that you’re logging in from a different country than you’re located in – this feature lets many VPN users bypass the restrictions set by their ISP providers.
- Consider protecting yourself, your team, and your loved ones by using a data breach search engine such as the one provided by BreachDirectory – the BreachDirectory data breach search engine and the data breach API will not only tell you whether your account is at risk of identity theft but also allow you to search for accounts in bulk and provide results via the BreachDirectory API service. The API is well-documented as well meaning that it will certainly be very easy to use. Quick, easy & efficient protection from identity theft at an affordable price is what every team manager and executive needs – have you tried the BreachDirectory API out already?
- If you’re running an application, follow industry-standard security trends like those outlined in the OWASP top 10 and other lists. Consider using a web application firewall to protect yourself from threats targeting web applications, and consider employing a CDN to protect yourself from DoS and DDoS attacks.
- Read up on cyber security news and stay curious about cyber security trends – reading blogs in the cyber security space is a great way to stay informed on what’s happening, and follow the newest cyber security trends as they happen.
- Consider paying a visit to a couple of cyber security conferences or information security workshops – most of the time, the experts there can provide wonderful advice in the security domain, and it’s a nice way to meet new people as well! Win-win.
We hope you’ve enjoyed reading this article and that you’ve learned something new in the cyber security domain or at least expanded your knowledge a little bit. Make sure to continue keeping an eye on the BreachDirectory blog, make good use of the capabilities provided by the data breach search engine and the BreachDirectory API, and we’ll see you in the next one!