Essay Op-Eds

How to Avoid Being a Willing Hack Victim

Here is a fun game… Based on your date of birth, what’s your Star Wars name? While you’re at it, tell me what school you attended? Where were you born? Where did you get married? Where was your honeymoon? What are the birth years of your mother, you, and your first child? What does this tell you about your personalities? It’s just harmless fun, isn’t it and the Star Wars thing is just funny. Of course I want to be Jayce Starbender or Nox Benduu, who wouldn’t?

Now then, who is going to give me access to their bank account, Instagram password, contents of their Facebook Messenger list including details of the last messages you sent, email address and phone number? No? Ok, I’ll just guess them based on the details you provided above. No sorry GeneralBank, I have forgotten my password but here is the name of my first school, birth date and daughter’s name – the answer to my security question. Great, thank you and yes – I will change the password just as soon as I’ve emptied the account.

Bang, and Your Account is Hacked / Your Money Gone

Did you see what just happened? Answering questions with your Star Wars name based on your birth date and providing such public information as school, children and pet name so willingly so often to millions of people is just asking for trouble. You just became a victim of cybercrime, and you could have avoided it quite easily. It might seem like harmless fun, but please be mindful that these are the sort of questions your email accounts, your social media sites and yes, even your BANK will ask as security questions – information that you will need to provide if you ever forget a password or a bank card PIN.

If you can do it, then so can strangers. The more information like this you reveal about yourself, the more information you’re providing to potential hackers to run wild with your credit card or hack Facebook. If you won’t freely offer such information to random strangers on the street, then it’s best not to broadcast it to Facebook’s 1 billion users.

You Need to Stop Yourself

We’ve become too overly focused on what we download when protecting our security that we’ve lost sight of the biggest problem of account hacking – that we all, every day, willingly giving away security information to random people. Because the medium is apparently so benign (such as “What is your adult film star / Star Wars / Game of Thrones name?”) we don’t tend to stop and think about how these details we offer so willingly to millions of people are details we use for security access. The only way you can stop being hacked is to stop being so free and easy with your data.

  • Don’t answer those “what is your …… based on your date of birth” and “what was your first school?” “which was your favourite pet as a child?”. Answer anything that asks for random personal details at your peril. Because what is the point in leaving this information off your Facebook profile as a security measure if you’re going to just tell everyone anyway?
  • Do not install third-party apps on social media. Again, these seem like harmless fun – the most recent being “what would you look like as a 92-year-old?” to access the service, these apps often request access to your messenger list, your email address, phone number and so on. They don’t need it, why would they? One answer – data harvesting

The more information these tech-savvy hackers have about you, the far easier it is to guess at your passwords or bypass the password and use extra security information. They can then reset your password and access your account, and of course strip you of your money.

Be Your Own Data Security Guard!

Advertisements

2 thoughts on “How to Avoid Being a Willing Hack Victim

  1. I have to admit that I have answered some of these questions in the past and never thought twice about it. Thanks for bringing this to our attention.

Have something to say? Go on, you know you want to:

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.