As an expert in small business and consumer security, this is the number-one question I’m asked. The answer? Money.
Earning Big Bucks The Hacker Way
Cybercrime is a multibillion-dollar business. Hackers can earn up to $100,000 per day with these scams. That kind of money certainly sounds tempting, doesn’t it? Poor economic conditions and high unemployment make hacking an attractive, if illegal, option both in the U.S. and abroad.
Installing viruses on your computer, stealing your password, hijacking your accounts – all these things bring in some seriously big bucks.
So how do hackers earn their ill-gotten gains? By taking advantage of you in two ways:
1. Commandeering your computer
Installing viruses on your computer allows criminals to control it. They can do everything from redirecting your web searches to capturing your passwords and credit card numbers. They may also install adware from which they get a kickback.
Why do they want to control your computer? Because it’s far more useful to command an army of ten thousand computers than it is to do their dirty work with one. It also creates layers of confusion between hackers and law enforcement.
Even better, they can sell access to their thousand-bot army to other scammers who might want to pull off fake pharmaceuticals, pay-per-click surveys, or 419 scams.
Plus, it gives them ammunition for…
2. Stealing your online identity
If you receive a message from Joe Neverheardofhim, you’re unlikely to click the link or attachment. But if you get a message from your best friend who says she’s stuck overseas and got mugged and desperately needs you to wire money, you might do it.
That’s a real-life scam, by the way. See the Snopes article here.
People are more likely to click on links from people they know. Hackers take advantage of that by breaking into legitimate accounts: email, Facebook, Twitter. If you see a weird message from a friend, hesitate before you click – they may have been hijacked.
Hijacking accounts feeds back into commandeering computers, which leads to hijacking accounts. It’s a perfect world for the hackers, in which their every action can have multiple lucrative rewards.
How To Protect Your Computer
The best way to prevent yourself from becoming a victim is to protect your computer. Here are some more Tech Tips to get you started:
- Social Engineering: How Viruses Trick You Into Letting Them In
- How To Create Secure Passwords
- Tools To Protect Your Smartphone From Malware
- Ten Ways To Tell If Your Computer Is Infected With A Virus
- How To Remove A Virus From Your Mac
Do you have questions about how to protect your computer from hackers? Ask in the comments! You can also subscribe free to Tech Tips by email for more computer news, security tips and social media advice!