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11 Common Hacking Techniques You Need To Know About

June 24, 2021 9 min read

types of hacking

True or False: A criminal hacker’s only means of obtaining your sensitive information is by hacking into your computer and stealing what they need.

If you selected “false” then you’re right! (And hopefully, you aren't speaking from experience.)

It’s a common trope to associate hackers with computers thanks to movies and tv.

In reality, hackers have an arsenal of different types of hacking techniques to turn you into their victim.

Because a computer is essentially only a tool to achieve a goal.

Their real power comes from mastering the art of deception.

And, like it or not - it’s easier to deceive a person than it is to hack into their computer.

So with that in mind, we're breaking down the top 11 types of hacking attacks that you need to protect yourself from.

1. Phishing

hacking techniques phishing

People who are looking to steal your information are not going to do so blatantly.

Hello, I’m a Hacker! Would you kindly give me your personal information so I can open a bunch of credit cards in your name? Thanks!”

Not a very subtle or lucrative approach now is it?

Instead, they will contact you under the guise of someone you might know or can potentially trust like a long-lost family member or a business professional.

This type of hacking attack is known as Phishing and is most commonly found in the form of an email, text message, or phone call.

How to Identify Phishing Emails

  • Large amounts of grammatical and spelling errors
  • Asking you oddly specific personal questions
  • Asking you for money in the form of wire payments
  • Telling you to click on a series of untrusted links
  • Telling you to download infected attachments
  • Offering you prizes or discounts to places you’ve never associated with.
  • Asking you to confirm personal information for an obscure reason
  • Claiming a problem needs to be resolved by personal verification
  • Stating you’re eligible for government refunds or offers
  • Asking you to update account information “Your auto insurance policy has expired…”

Honestly, the list of phishing techniques is endless.

But with a keen eye and a little brainpower, you can identify these hacking techniques with ease.

Even simply asking follow-up questions about them or their scam will quickly allow you to deduce if the reason they are contacting you is “fishy”.

2. Phony Threat Reports

different types of hacking phone schemes

Hackers know you are concerned about the safety of your computer and want to defend the information contained within.

This dirty hacking technique has been designed to use your own fears against you.

What better way to gain access to your personal information than trick you into thinking it’s under attack.

Hackers will program pop-up Threat Reports notifying you that your computer has been compromised and a security scan must be performed.

Without thinking, you click the option that grants them permission to scan your computer.

The phony threat report pretends to diligently scan every file stored in your hard drive but is secretly copying or stealing said files.

Upon completion, you are notified the threat has been eliminated.

You are either sent on your way or offered a security service to protect you in the future.

In reality, the program has not only stolen your data but has more than likely installed a damaging virus.

If you opted to “purchase” their security against future attacks, you’ve just given them your credit card number and more personal information as a bonus.

How to Avoid Phony Threat Reports

The best options to circumvent a phony virus scan are simple and easy to follow.

  • Don’t click on pop-up threat reports from the internet
  • Buy a virus/malware protection program from a trusted retailer.
  • Familiarize yourself with your computer’s pre-installed virus protection
  • Make sure your computer’s security is up to date
  • Regularly perform system diagnostics checks on your hard drive
  • Do not purchase security software from pop-up threat reports
  • Avoid the website the security threat report originated from

3. Social Engineering

social engineering

Some people are smooth talkers, others enjoy conversation, and almost everyone loves talking about themselves.

Social engineers use their silver tongue to casually direct a conversation in a direction that leads you to expose yourself.

They tell you a fake backstory about themselves to provoke a similar response in return.

The more you talk about yourself, the more they can use to impersonate you.

Even telling them the town you grew up in narrows down the possible answers for several security questions.

Be aware of the questions they ask and why they are so interested in the details of your past.

Red Flag Topics

  • The town you were raised in
  • Your pets’ names
  • The first car you owned
  • Your mother’s maiden name
  • Where you went to school
  • Your first jobs

Protecting Yourself

If you don’t completely trust the source don’t be specific in your response.

Multi-factor authentication is a great way to protect your accounts.

Having a secondary form of credentials needed to access your accounts, i.e. fingerprint reader, texted password, etc. will make it impossible for hackers to log into your accounts.

Another alternative is to write down fabricated answers to security questions on a piece of paper and store it in a safe place.

That way only you know the correct answers and no one can use your life history against you in the case of a slip-up.

4. Bait and Switch

bait and switch common hacking technique

Hackers know that people like to buy things, and if people have money to spend then there is money to take.

Hackers will follow common marketing methods to create false advertisements for popular products that catch the eye.

They post fake ads on social media, send them in emails, or onto websites that have the highest chance of being clicked on.

The links appear authentic, sometimes using a recognizable brand name, and will offer a desirable product or service that is too good to be true.

You click the ad and for some reason, you are taken to a site that has no relation to the advertisement.

You close the window and think nothing of it.

However, the web address linked to the ad was malicious and you have unknowingly installed a virus that corrupts your system.

Of all the types of hacking attacks, the bait and switch is a classic example of taking something old and putting a modern spin on it.

5. ClickJack Attack

Similar to bait and switch, ClickJacking uses graphics disguised as function button tab (i.e. Next Page, Go Home, Read More, etc.) to trick you into clicking something different than what you expected.

Most websites that have this type of hack attack are often unaware of its existence due to its discreet and subtle design.

ClickJack links take you to malicious sites where there is a high risk of having malware or viruses auto-installed onto your computer.

Select ClickJack programs can also allow hackers to take complete control of your device remotely.

6. Keyloggers

keyloggers common hacking techniques

If you have ever had the uncomfortable feeling of someone watching every step you take, then I regret to inform you that someone can watch every key you type.

Keylogging software records the information you type into your keyboard and sends it to a third party.

The information is then linked back to the websites/programs you’ve used.

This gives the hacker access to any accounts you’ve logged into, messages you’ve sent, or applications used; to varying degrees.

The information is then either sold or used for a larger hacking attack down the road depending on the motive.

The majority of Keylogging software must be downloaded to be installed on your device. Before you think “Well, okay. I just won’t download it.

It is plausible to download the software unknowingly. In fact, you may already have it installed on your devices.

Because it is used as a development tool by White Hat Hackers in software companies to discover and correct mistakes when creating a program.

In 2017, HP recalled select laptop models after a debug tool containing Keylogging software was left installed in the touchpad drivers.

Keylogging can often be found bundled with different types of hacking techniques to collect the most amount of information while causing the maximum damage.

Where Keylogging Software is Most Often Found

Keylogging often binds itself to programs or other forms of software like a tick. Ready to hop off the leaf and straight onto the back of your neck to suck up your info.

These common commodities have consistently been found to transfer and auto-install the software:

  • Malware infected apps from in-phone app stores.
  • Phishing emails containing malicious links
  • Unprotected web domains
  • Infected WordPress sites
  • Fake analytic programs
  • Infected USB drives
  • Connecting to an unprotected network
  • Fake terms and conditions

How to Prevent Keylogging

  • Use anti-keylogging software
  • Disable self-running files on external devices
  • Monitor resource allocation, processes, and data
  • Make sure your security programs are up to date
  • Install antivirus and anti-rootkit protections
  • Do not connect to untrusted/public networks
  • Look for certificates verifying the application/ program before download
  • Do not open links contained in spam/phishing emails

7. Fake Wireless Access Points

fake wireless access point

Hackers design Fake Wireless Access Points in highly populated areas to trick people into logging into a network that does nothing more than rips the information from your device.

Think of it as setting a mousetrap.

The cheese is the free wifi cleverly named something genuine to lure people in.

They see a genuinely named W.A.P. like “Coffee Shop Guest Wifi” and unknowingly fall victim to having their devices corrupted as they wait to be connected to the network.

I recommend using your own personal hotspot feature to browse the web over using an unknown wireless access point.

8. Cookie Theft

Cookies are personal data stored in individual web browsers and applications.

They contain personal information (i.e. usernames, passwords, history, etc.) for easier internet browsing.

Every time you visit a page or create an account with a website, a cookie is stored in their servers for your ease of access.

Cookie Theft Hackers will send data packets through your browser to collect your tailor-made cookie if the sites you visit are not secure. If you create an account and provide any sensitive information make sure the site contains an SSL certificate.

Identify a Secure Site with Ease

Internet browsers have made it simple to know if the websites you visit are secure.

  • Websites beginning with HTTPS:// are secure, HTTP:// are not. The “S” means secure.
  • Look for the locked icon in the address bar
  • Use web browser notifications that alert you when you’re on a malicious site

9. Denial of Service (DoS/DDoS)

ddos attack common hacking techniques

A Denial of Service Attack is a type of hacking technique aggressive in nature and designed to bring a company’s web server to its knees.

Hackers will relentlessly flood a server with requests and action commands until the servers overload and crash.

This form of attack is popularly used in ransomware when hackers take on large companies and corporations.

If they have the power to stop a company’s technical infrastructure from working, they have the power to demand whatever they want from a company.

Recently, the Colonial Pipeline was temporarily shut down by a group of criminal hackers who used DoS and Ransomware.

10. Juice Jacking

You better think twice before using a public charging station to power your devices.

The hacking technique known as Juice Jacking offers the convenience of charging your phone in exchange for stealing your information and installing malware.

Airports were popular areas for hackers to load malware into public charging station ports.

A poor soul stuck in an airport for an additional 8 hours because of a delayed flight is going to need to charge their device at some point in time, right?

Of course, they’re going to plug their phone into a charging station.

Why not infect the USB ports to collect the information of hundreds of people a day!

Then they fly away and never know they’ve just been juice jacked.

When life gives you lemons…

How to Avoid Being Jacked for Juice

  • Don’t use public charging stations
  • Carry a phone charging power bank (solar-powered banks are recommended)
  • Adjust the energy settings on your phone to save power
  • Carry an AC Socket (wall outlet charger)
  • Use a juice-jack defending USB data blocker
  • Do not use Cables found on the ground

11. Credit Card Skimmers

credit card skimming Common Hacking Techniques

Often found at gas stations, Credit Card Skimmers are magnetic stripe readers that steal your information as you swipe/insert your card.

Hackers will order replica covers to fit popular credit card readers and line the strip reader with a sensor that will copy your information without disrupting the official reader’s scan.

The skimmer fits snugly over the existing device and is only noticeable if the cover is pulled or wiggled loose.

Sophisticated skimmers can not only steal your credit card numbers but your pin and zip code as well.

Digital Defense Starts with Precautionary Steps

Of course, there are a myriad of ways for hackers to get their fingers on your digital goods, but these are the more common types of hacking attacks you may encounter in the digital and real world.

The more technologically complex forms of hacking are usually saved for larger corporate entities who have more to offer than the average computer user.

It never hurts to take a little precaution to protect yourself from identity theft and financial loss.

Installing verified virus protection, quickly checking to see if a site is secure, and being aware of the information you share when communicating with anyone are simple enough steps to avoiding a massive headache.

And if your long-lost cousin happens to email you from his royal palace in Nigeria, don’t give him your information in exchange for half his fortune.

It’s been years since I sent him my identity and I’m still waiting on my 2 million dollars.

Stay safe and have a nice day!