Hacking. The art of the virtual break-in, where burglary is made into binary. No matter how advanced your security software may be, you are always at risk of being hacked, because therein lies the glorious danger of the practice. No system is safe enough, no passcode too complex, no equation unsolvable, all is, in essence, ripe for the taking.
What is needed by the hacker is a method of connecting to your device. Unfortunately, such a method no longer requires something physical, since, for the most of us, the tools used to hack into a laptop to locate your secret stash of Tim Farron fanfiction have advanced since the days of Terminator 2. Take the ‘Pineapple’ as an example. In today’s society, we are relatively reliant on the need for an internet connection. In many of these cases, we rely upon an internet router to do this. The Pineapple is, at first glance, just another one of these, an internet router designed to provide you with the connection you need to find saucy images of young Joe Biden. However, that’s where the similarities end. Once connected, the Pineapple is able to document every search you make, your entire internet history immediately becomes privy to the eyes of the hacker, all without you realising.
Of course, this is nothing when compared to malware-based hacking. After selecting a certain target, they will find every piece of data available about you on the internet in order to build up a profile, before creating a custom pice of malware specifically for your computer. Do you prefer the Duke of Benin to the Prince of Nigeria? If so, be prepared for that to be put to use. During these procedures you will usually receive an email with, say, a .rar file attached to it. Once opened, you’ll wind up with a remote access trojan on the loose, with the hackers controlling every aspect of your computer. They’ll even be able to use the webcam to see you, and the microphone to talk to you. Once the trojan is activated, it’s essentially game over. There is no reset button.
Nonetheless, this shouldn’t concern you too much. Companies such as Google are now hiring ‘White Hat Hackers’ – people employed to break into their websites and servers in order to work out where the flaws in their security systems lie. Of course, this is all rendered meaningless if those you are trying to protect your files from breach your server. We have already been witness to the power of WikiLeaks for a good few years now, and their effect on the recent Presidential Election is set to be one which won’t be soon forgotten.
However, these are large companies, parties, and endeavours. The individual, such as yourself, is less at risk because you are not only easier to hack, but less interesting to hack. Whilst this might not sound like much of a comfort, it is the case that notoriety increases ones risk. Now, if you’re still scared, purchase a penetration test – where somebody hacks your computer for you – in order to gain a sharper understanding of your computers limits in security. Alongside this, keep your passwords fluid and temporary, no matter how long your password is. Make sure that you know exactly which Wi-fi source you’re using and for pity’s sake, don’t use the pen drive that Keanu Reeves lookalike gave you.