Digital Hostage: Your Personal Information
Scamware, ransomware on the rise
Scamware and ransomware are partners in crime. Have you ever seen ads for magical software that will make your computer faster? Have you ever heard about a company whose computer network was taken over and they lost thousands of dollars? These aren’t urban myths. There’s no need to run into a bank with a ski mask and gun. Sophisticated criminals use personal information to get away with cyber heists.
Scamware is free to download, but might be expensive to get rid of. Usually such programs offer a “free virus scan.” Within seconds of starting the scan, it’ll promptly show that you have 5,000 viruses on your computer. For an exorbitant price, you can safely clean your computer of these nasty viruses. If you don’t want to pay, too bad, some scamware will ask you to pay up in order to uninstall the scamware from your computer. A scam in every sense of the word. The legality of such programs errs on the side of criminality, especially when most of these fake programs are skimming personal information from your computer and sending it to some forsaken server.
Ransomware is a type of scamware that prevents people from accessing their system and/or personal files, demanding money in order to regain access. According to Malwarebytes, the earliest types of ransomware were developed in the late 1980s, and payment was sent via snail mail. In 2018, ransomware programs usually demand credit card information or Bitcoin as payment. If your computer is held hostage, then the hostage taker is speedily extracting as much personal information as they can from your computer before letting your computer go. Sometimes paying a ransom isn’t good enough, and your personal files are destroyed for their amusement.
More than just a computer
Thousands of computers are being taken hostage in the cyber age. It makes sense, right? The hardware and software are both valuable, especially at large corporations. Computers are very useful and pretty much everyone uses them daily in the office or at home. Without a doubt, cars are useful in the same way computers are and everyone understands why criminals steal cars. In this same way of thinking, your computer and its contents – your most private info – are worthy of taking hostage.
Ask yourself, how old is your computer? The older it is, the more valuable it becomes – contrary to what most people think. The hardware might be a little outdated, but what about the years of memories stored on there? How many personal files are on there that are simply too big to be uploaded to the cloud or too numerous to properly organize and backup? Corporations with sensitive information are prime targets as well. Spreadsheets with names, addresses, social security numbers, and everything else there is to know about a person might be sitting on an unencrypted computer with no real security. Your personal information that you handed over to your employer, websites, or elsewhere is at risk. If it shows up online, then it will be collected by criminals and people who want to profit from your losses.
In some cultures, computers are referred to as electric brains, which makes sense because they have perfect memory and record everything you do in real-time. Snoops would rather look through your computer than your trash. Even though one man’s trash reveals a lot about how he lives, his computer reveals ever so more. People spend minutes throwing away trash but thousands upon thousands of hours on their computer.
Your personal information is online and offline, but if it is available on Google then you’re in trouble. If a hacker comes prepared with private info and wants to break into your digital home, then they will be more likely to succeed because they have the tools at hand. Similar to physical burglars, they come equipped with special hardware, software, and knowledge that can exploit your computer’s weaknesses and hold you hostage.
Stop it from happening to you
Don’t install strange programs. If it’s too good to be true, then it is. Those emails telling you that you’ve won a million dollars and all you need to do is send them your name, address, and phone number are completely phony. Websites that promise free gift cards in exchange for quick surveys are also an endless scam. If you have ever been duped by scamware or otherwise, then you should consult Wiperts to see how much of your private information is available online. Don’t wait. Data on the internet tends to duplicate exponentially, and criminals are willing to exchange your personal information for goods and services.
Hackers thrive on personal information – we’re all human after all. To bypass most security measures, personal information is often integral. Take for example security questions. Security questions are used as a backup when you forget your password. Have you ever noticed that almost all websites use the same questions? What was your first pet’s name, what was your first car, where did you go to high school, etc. Maybe you use the same security questions and same answers on every website. Maybe you even use the same password. One set of keys can open many doors, especially when all the locks are the same. Change your locks and your keys, keep criminals guessing. Passwords that don’t work anymore are likely to cause criminals to give up. Passwords that do work open up a whole set of doors. Most websites are linked to each other in some shape or form, allowing one account to access many others. Be wary of any security breaches. Compromised security quickly cracks, and a crack is enough to break through completely.
Don’t let your personal details show up on Google or strange websites that compile information. Hackers and criminals are looking for this information. Keeping your internet footprints few rather than many is the best prevention in today’s digital world. Wiperts can help remove your personal information from the internet. If you find yourself listed online and you didn’t give your permission, then you should fight back using a professional service like Wiperts.