By Tom Dunlap for Every Day Connected
If you secretly think the person who falls for obvious hacking tricks, like clicking on scrambled links, is kind of a ninny, well, think twice -- you could easily be duped too.
Although the Web may seem pretty harmless as long as you have some common sense, in reality it’s become a privacy war zone. Hackers aren’t infecting your computer just for kicks anymore; they’re using hacking tricks to try to nab your logins, passwords and, most importantly, your credit card number. Once snatched, the information is carted away in cyberspace and sold. Here are three common hacking tricks to watch for in this new age of hackdom:
1. A link posted on your Facebook wall by a friend leads nowhere.Your friend posts a link on your wall. You click on the link -- nothing happens, you think. But you could be wrong: You may have been secretly redirected to a malicious Web page that installs malware to your unprotected PC. Because that link you clicked on may not have been posted by your friend at all, but by a hacker who has seized control of your friend’s profile.
The malware might be a keylogger, an invisible program that records your every keystroke. Or it could allow your computer to host a bot, a self-acting program which can run automated tasks over the Internet on command. There are private chat rooms charging $75 to $200 for a stolen Facebook login and password.
2. Your security software detects and warns you of a virus infection.But if you look more closely, it isn’t your security software warning you -- it’s a bogus program. An offer to either fix your PC or scan it for other bad things prompts you to click the OK button. And while you’re thinking you’ve just gotten help, you actually just installed malware that will spy on your computer activities -- including your online banking or shopping, during which your password or credit card number will be recorded and sent to your hacker.
More than a million victims a day fall prey to believing fake virus warning messages, according to security experts. The same deceitful message might also trick you into buying the program as security software, which is another horrible move that gives hackers your credit card number. Reports show that more than $200 million was made selling bogus software last year.
3. An email from your bank asks you to update your account.If you find an email that appears to be from your bank or PayPal and asks you to log in to update your account, it probably isn’t real. Real institutions would call you to maintain security. So call them and double-check that the email is real before you give away any bank account or credit card information to a potential hacker.
What else can you do to stay safe online? A good antivirus program can protect you from commonly known viruses and other threats. The growing wave of new threats is forcing antivirus developers to look at things differently. They are now taking extra steps in acting on new files and redirected websites before they get into your PC. This involves new techniques that quickly block suspected malware or sites by comparing what others have said about it.
So running an updated antivirus is good protection. As is, of course, not clicking on any links or programs you’re not 100-percent sure are viable.
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