Worldwide, there has been a sharp increase in hacking during the coronavirus pandemic. Hackers thrive in an environment of chaos and confusion. The FBI has released warnings urging people to be vigilant against attacks. With most employees working from home corporate security teams have a harder time protecting their data that is dispersed across home computers nationwide. If you are trying to figure out how to secure your website from an attack we have some advice from white hat hackers. Keeping reading to learn what you can do to protect your website.
What is White Hat Hacking?
The word hacker first came about as a term used to describe any person who had high-level computer programming skills. Since then, the term hackeris now associated with individuals who use their technical knowledge of computers to break into computers, smartphones, tablets, and even entire computer networks.
Today, there are three categories of hackers: black, grey, and white. How and why a person uses their knowledge and skills determines whether they are a white hat, grey hat, or black hat hacker.
Black Hat Hackers
Black hat hacking is probably the classification of hacking that most people are familiar with. This is the evil type of hacking.
Black hat hackers have malicious intent as they break into computer networks and devices. They do it to steal sensitive data, lock a computer, or disrupting a company’s work or services.
Black hat hacking is illegal and punishable by law in the United States but that doesn’t keep people from doing it.
Grey Hat Hackers
Grey hat hackers also illegally break into computer systems but for different reasons. These hackers usually do not seek to interrupt businesses for personal gain. These hackers violate the law sometimes but they are not viewed the same way as a black hat hacker.
White Hat Hackers
On the far opposite scale of black hat, hackers sit white hat hackers. These hackers are often hired by companies to test their security systems. White hat hacking is legal and generally is for a good cause.
These ethical white hats report holes in a companies system and help apply fixes before they are discovered by people who will abuse them. A white-hat hacker helps make our digital world a safer place. These hackers fight against cybercriminals and improve our systems.
Reviewing tips from white hat hackers can help secure your website and improve online security. Let’s take a look at some tips from famous white hat hackers.
White Hat Hacker Advice
Hacking has become an everyday occurrence in America. The threat comes from within America and from the global community. The city of Atlanta learned an expensive lesson in 2018 when their computer system has held hostage by a ransomware cyber attack.
Here are a few pieces of advice you can follow on how to secure a webpage and prevent the same from happening to you.
Hackers Try to Bait You
Bait and switch is a common method used by hackers. A black hat hacker will buy an ad on a website and then switch the link to direct people who click the ad to something different than what they think they are clicking on.
These ads usually direct users to infected websites that contain viruses. The hackers then “enter” into your computer through their viruses that reside on your computer.
How can you protect yourself from bait and switch hacks? First of all, done click on any ads that look suspicious. Make sure that you only download software or applications from reputable sources.
If you see a pop-up window or an ad that seems to promise a lot, then it is probably a sign you should steer clear. You can also install a popup blocker to keep these ads (and other legitimate ads) from interrupting you.
Make sure your computer has anti-virus software and that it runs regularly to search your computer for viruses.
Hackers Cyber Eavesdropping
A man in the middle attack happens when your communication is intercepted without you knowing. When the victim enters sensitive data such as a password on a webpage the hacker “breaks in” to the server and can steal this data.
Let’s say you receive an email that looks like it is from your bank. This email asks you to log in to your account and confirm that your contact information is up to date. So, you click the link and perform the task on what appears to be your bank’s website.
In this scenario, the man in the middle sent you the email, not your bank. He also created the website that looks just like your bank’s. You are handing over your bank account information to the hacker.
How do you protect yourself from this type of attack? Never enter any secure information on a public wifi.
If you must use public wifi to handle tasks such as online banking then use a VPN or a Virtual Private Network. A VPN hides your IP address by encrypting your data.
Hackers Steal Your Cookies
Cookies are types of files that keep track of your online activity. Cookies store the data that you’ve entered on different websites. Cookies help make our internet experience more personalized and help us pick u where we left off.
Cookie theft occurs when hackers copy the unencrypted session data and use it to impersonate the real person. Once the thief has your cookies they can surf the web posing as you. They can easily break into your bank account and transfer money or make posts on sites while posing as you.
Cookie theft occurs when a user accesses a trusted site over an unprotected or public wifi connection. The username and password for the trusted site will be encrypted but the session data traveling back and forth (the cookie) is not.
Cookie theft has existed for a long time but it is more common now because the software is widely available. The number of cookie thefts is growing giving hackers more potential avenues are growing giving hackers more avenues to “break into” your computer and your accounts.
How can you protect yourself from cookie theft? Turn off the “save password” feature. Instead, use a reliable password manager. If you feel like you have come upon a suspicious-looking website it’s best to be on the safe side and check it with Google’s Safe Browsing tool.
Keep track of your recent activity online with Google. If you notice any suspicious activity on your accounts, your session may have been hacked.
As a general rule of thumb, clear your cookies once a month to protect your privacy.
Hackers Use Phishing
Phishing is similar to real-life fishing. A fisherman casts out their bait and waits for a fish to bite. Several different techniques can be used to get someone to bite. As technology is becoming more advanced, so are the techniques used by cybercriminals.
The most common phishing technique is email phishing. From the hacker’s perspective its a numbers game.
Hackers send emails to millions of users requesting them to fill it in with personal details. Those details are then used by the hackers for their illegal activities.
Most of these messages look like urgent emails that ask users to enter their credentials to update account information. Sometimes they will ask you to change details or verify your account.
The user may also be directed to fill out a form to access a new service through a link that is provided in the email. When you click the link and fill out the form that information goes straight to the hackers.
Other phishing schemes involve search engines. A user is directed to a product site that offers a low-cost product or service. This seems like a good deal to the user.
When the user tries to buy the product they enter their credit card details. This information is collected by hackers. Some of these sites may pose as banking websites offering loans or credit cards at low rates but these are phishing websites.
To protect yourself from phishing attacks do not click shortened links. Hackers use shortened links to direct you to fake websites. Don’t click on any links or download any attachments from an email where you don’t recognize the sender.
Examine the URL of the websites you visit. Fake websites are often riddled with typos.
Hackers Use Password Spraying
Another common technique that clack hat hackers use is password spraying. A password spraying attack attempts to access a large number of accounts by using commonly used passwords.
The traditional forced entry attack attempts to gain access to a single account by guessing the password. This can backfire quickly and lock the hacker out of the targeted account. New policies are now commonly used that lock accounts after a limited number of failed attempts during a period.
With a password spray attack, also known as the low-and-slow method, the hacker attempts a single commonly used password on many accounts before moving on to guess another commonly used password. This technique continues until one or more of the accounts are hacked.
With password praying a hacker can remain undetected and avoid account lockouts.
Businesses and organizations should be aware of password spraying. Hackers can gain information about a company’s employees from public sources such as their website.
Hackers often use the employee’s names combined with common passwords and break into the companies business accounts.
This technique is commonly used to force entry into email accounts as well. The simplest way to protect your organization from password spraying is to create strong passwords. Make sure they are at least ten characters long and contain special symbols.
Check out this list of easily hacked passwords. If you are using any of these passwords its a good idea to change them now to prevent a hack. You can also look into using an authentication solution that doesn’t use passwords as a way to authenticate users, too.
Famous White Hat Hackers
Now that we’ve gotten some tips from the pros on how to avoid common hacking techniques, let’s take a look at some of the famous white hat hackers who help improve our digital security.
Steve Wozniak is a co-founder of Apple and a famous white hat hacker. He gained experience in hacking by designing blue boxes. These blue boxes were made for hacking the telephone network and allowed users to make long-distance phone calls for free.
Wozniak said he helped create the blue boxes t learn about the telecommunications system. Later on, he played a critical role in designing hardware, operating systems, and hardware for the first Apple computers.
Charlie Miller is a computer security researcher who was the first person to crack safari, hack the iPhone, and find a critical bug in the MacBook Air.
He is also famous for car hacking. Miller hacked a Jeep Cherokee and commanded the vehicle from a distance by discovering a vulnerability in the vehicle’s system that allowed anyone with the vehicle’s IP address to send instructions to the engine.
These important white hack findings are critical for our safety today.
Kevin Mitnick is the world’s most famous and perhaps most controversial hacker. At just 17 years old, he wiretapped the National SecurityAgency and listened in on their conversations.
Keven explained that he didn’t want to steal any information but that he enjoys a challenge and a passion for learning.
Mitnick has hacked over 40 major corporations. In 1995 he was arrested five times for stealing information from organizations such as Nokia, IBM, and Novell.
Today Mitnick as cleaned up his act. He now owns his own cybersecurity company and works as a cybersecurity consultant.
Use These Tips on How to Secure Your Website
If you or your organization runs a website it is crucial to maintain its security for users. Use these tips from white hat hackers on how to secure your website and keep your users safe on the internet.