Our devices contain some of our most important information. We often store personal or business files on our devices as they are the most convenient and safest places to keep them, or so we believe. Our private usernames and passwords to our accounts and social media are also stored on our devices.
Your devices can be at risk of being breached by a cybercriminal, and therefore personal information could be at risk of being stolen as well. Cybercriminals can even blackmail you and extort you for money. Hackers can commit several different crimes if they can get their hands on the right information.
We’ll be taking a closer look at how cybercriminals can breach your devices and what information they tend to go after once they have infiltrated your device. This will give you the knowledge of being able to understand which information you need to keep as secure as possible on your device.
How Can Cybercriminals Breach Your Devices?
Cybercriminals have developed new methods to breach your devices. It is important to understand what these methods are and how they work to be able to protect your devices from cyberattacks.
The first method that cybercriminals use to break into people’s devices is phishing scams. Phishing has been around for decades, however, it has developed significantly in recent years to become more effective at luring individuals into falling for the traps that have been set up for them.
Phishing scams involve cybercriminals sending fraudulent emails to potential victims. The emails will either contain attachments or links and will urge the victim to interact with them. Attachments can install malicious software, also known as malware on your device if you interact with them. Links can take you to malicious websites that are able to install malware on your device or steal your login credentials and, in some cases even your banking details.
Hackers will use social engineering by setting up their emails to look like it has been sent from a reputable company that the victim knows and trusts. This makes the victim more likely to interact with the email and get caught out.
One example of a popular phishing scam is where victims receive an email from Netflix. The email has been set up using the Netflix logo and colour scheme which makes it replicate what a real Netflix email would look like. The email states that the user’s account will be suspended if they do not update their billing information. The users are then told that they can follow a link in the email to update their billing information. However, the link will take you to a fake website that has been set up by the cybercriminal to replicate the Netflix website. The website will have a keylogger installed which will track everything that is typed into the web page and give it straight to the hacker.
Cybercriminals can also install malware on your device through pop up ads and links found online. These links could even be hidden as images or icons which would make them less suspicious. Once you click on a malicious link the malware will be installed on your device. However it will be installed in the background, which means that you might never know about it being on your device if you do not have the right cybersecurity precautions in place.
What Information Can Cybercriminals Steal?
Now that we know how a cybercriminal is able to break into your device it’s time to take a closer look at the information that they are after. Each hacker is unique in terms of their goals and what they set out to achieve, which means that you never know which information they will be going after first.
Firstly, cybercriminals will be scouring your data for any personal information. This can be anything from your name to your date of birth. This is useful information to them for various reasons. They can not only use this data for identity theft, but they can also use it to crack passwords. Many people use their names and date of birth for passwords since it is easy to remember. This essentially gives a hacker free access to your login details.
After a security breach, hackers will often try to access your passwords as quickly as possible. They can do so through searching your cache and browser history where your login details may be stored automatically. They can also find your passwords if you use a questionable password manager. An unsecured password manager could give a cybercriminal the passwords to all of your accounts including banking details and social media accounts. This could allow them to gain access to your accounts and change the passwords, essentially locking you out of your accounts.
Physical addresses and locations
Your browser and other devices may store your location and physical address. In the event of a security breach, a cybercriminal could gain access to this information. Gaining access to this information can give a hacker a good idea of your general daily whereabouts. This would include where you live, what times you leave the house and where you work.
Credit card information
Many people enjoy the ease of access that comes with technology. With the rise of online shopping, browsers can now store our credit card information to make online purchases easier and faster than ever before. Unfortunately, this feature is also useful to cybercriminals. If there is a security breach on one of your devices, it allows cybercriminals to gain instant access to your credit card without it ever leaving your wallet. A hacker could empty your accounts within minutes, long before you even know about a security breach. By the time you notice, it will be too late to stop them.
People with important careers are often targets of cybercrime. Lawyers, doctors and even CEOs of companies store valuable information on their devices. Usually, this information is confidential. If a security breach were to occur, this information could end up in the wrong hands. Confidential information must be well protected on any device. This information could be held for ransom or it could be shared with other people.