Not all hackers are high tech wizards. Sometimes the easiest way to steal your information is by asking.
When people think of hacking, their minds almost always thinks of a scene from Sneakers or The Matrix. They imagine that hackers are some high tech geniuses who start typing into command prompts furiously, and that somehow, magically, they manage to access things on your site or network. Though it is possible for hackers to launch that “hacking into the mainframe” movie-style attack on a company, a lot of the hackers out there are really not that high tech. In fact, some of the ways that hackers get your information are so easy, a five year old can do it.
More often than not, hackers will try to use manipulation and impersonation to get the information for your accounts. Once they get your logins, passwords, or credit card information, hackers don’t need many tech skills to make bad things happen. They can just log into the program or site as you and do whatever they want.
The most common way for hackers to get your information is either by calling or emailing you, then saying that there is something wrong with your computer, credit card account, or other service you are subscribed to. Oftentimes, they pose as a company’s customer service representative.
After claiming to be who they aren’t, the hacker will often ask for important information to help you avoid problems with your account, or fix some made up issue. When they ask, they often make it sound absolutely urgent that you give them the information right then and there. This is because they don’t want you to second-guess their request, and because they can do more damage the sooner that you give them your information. For example, they might say that your credit card has been stolen and that they need the number in order to verify your account, or they might ask for your username and password in order to reset your account.
Believe it or not, many hackers are very successful with their identity theft and financial fraud endeavors by simply using this method. It doesn’t take too much effort to sound like a professional on the phone, and it also doesn’t take too much effort to get a fake phone line. Sadly, by the time that people have found out about the fact that they were fleeced, the damage has been done.
If you want to avoid having this kind of thing from happen to you, use your common sense. A representative from a credit card company will not call you from a local or a spoofed number. Someone from Apple is not going to call you about viruses on your computer, and Microsoft is not going to email you from a Gmail address. Be careful about how your information is given over the phone and it might just save you from a bigger problem. If you are unsure if the number calling is genuine, hang up, and call the real support number yourself. This way you are sure you are talking to a real representative who isn’t going to make off with your information.