Today hacking is a multi-million dollar industry run by sophisticated criminal gangs unlike back in the 90s when hacking was predominantly a bored teenager’s game not to forget the curious folks who started phreaking with Blue Boxes for fun and for #undernet notoriety.
Of course, back in those days for-profit hackers did exist. A glowing example is Kevin Mitnick who was named America’s most wanted computer criminal for gaining unauthorized access to some of the largest technology giants such as Motorola, Nokia, IBM and Sun Microsystems. In the past 10 years the dynamics of cyber-crime has changed tremendously, the potential of dirty money making is staggering hence most sophisticated criminal gangs have a “cyber squad” who steal credit card details through phishing attacks and in some cases they get paid large sums of money for DDos attacks and etc.
I highly recommend Kevin Mitnick’s book The Art of Deception as it offers excellent insight into the mind of a “hacker type”. In his book, he expands upon some of the social engineering tactics he used to compromise some of the most secure systems in the world. Surprisingly, some of those social engineering techniques are being used by cyber criminals today. These days attacked are more discreet, more coordinated and above all less traceable but the human element remains the same.
There are many tools out there that can help you identify malicious links, emails and attachments. But as we know, criminals are always one step ahead of the law. Today cyber criminals understand the mindset of surfers, they understand online behavior and most importantly they understand the importance of social media.
In the last few years cyber criminals have utilized social media to coordinate their attacks compromising large number of computers in matter of hours instead of days or weeks. We have witnessed many Facebook “funny video” attacks and hundreds of thousands of malicious websites out there on the World Wide Web. Today Google has rolled out a new safety feature in its SERPs, basically if a website is compromised Google notifies searchers right in the SERPs. This feature is indeed very helpful and will probably protect alot of unaware searchers.
Below is a screenshot of Google’s new safety feature:
If you are interested in computer security, you might find the following books insightful.
The Art of Deception – Controlling the Human Element of Security – Kevin Mitnick
The Art of Intrusion: The Real Stories Behind the Exploits of Hackers, Intruders & Deceivers – Kevin Minick