Basic Awareness of Hacking Prevention: Data Protection

It’s very time-consuming for hackers to collect and sort out useful information from the attacks. If they couldn’t turn those data into money, they will probably starve to death. Therefore, this article uses some common examples to illustrate how hackers can take advantage of the data leakage and the corresponding impacts from a profit-making perspective.

However, it’s difficult not to leave any information on the Internet; therefore, we will also provide some suggestions in the end of the article.

# Information that is often leaked on the Internet

Let's assume that the world is full of maliciousness and personal information is obtained for malicious purposes. However, in many cases, we have to leave our personal information. The most common scenario is the service that can only be used by applying for an account. When applying for an account, there are a lot of required fields, and this is how personal information is potentially leaked out.

In addition to personal information, there are also some system information that often leaks out unconsciously. The most common one is the advertisements provided by Google. When you find out the content of the advertisements that pops up on the Internet is more and more relevant to you, it means that your information has already been leaked out, and everyone knows you! As the amount of information leaking out, the advertisements will be more accurate.

In summary, the leaked data can be divided into two categories, personal information and system information. The following lists some data that need to be paid attention to.

# 1. Personal Information

# 2. System Information

# What happens next after the information being leaked out ?

The more information a hacker collects, the more powerful an attack can be. The contact information collected in personal data can be used to make money by sending advertisements or scams. If you want to hack others’ computers, the contact information alone is not enough. More system information is required.

There are many examples of data leakage. According to the report provided by IC3 (Internet Crime Complaint Center, an organization under the FBI, and the largest information security notification system in the United States), the cybercrime that caused the largest amount of loss in 2020 is BEC/EAC (Fraudulent remittance or payment information via email). In addition to explaining the impact, we also use email as an example to illustrate what may happen after the data is leaked out, and provide a real case news to help you understand how these things happen in real life.

# Type 1. Advertisement:

No matter what email message you leave on any website today, the most serious impact is to start getting a flood of ad emails because hackers might have sold your contact information to e-commerce companies.

Actual case:
Hackers sold over 500 million Weibo users’ personal information online for only $1,000.
News resource:

# Type 2. Scam:

Hackers could further take the email address to search on Google and find your personal information on the Internet, and then they will try to design a phishing email based on this information and try to scam you.

Actual case:
Etherscan and CoinGeckotw, have issued alerts about an ongoing phishing attack.
News resource:

# Type 3. Stealing accounts

Simply saying, when your leaked data includes service types, hackers will choose profitable services to attack.

Often, those service information is indirectly leaked. For example, if a hacker finds your email and knows that you are using Gmail, it means that you use Google's services. The hacker will try to log in to your Google account, and the goal is to do identity theft on your Google Pay.

Actual case:
North Kitsap man's $60K investment account drained in fraud, leaving only 32 cents behind.
News resource:

# Type 4. Intrusion

If your system has some weaknesses and the information is collected by hackers, it is likely to become the target of intrusion, but it is more common for hackers to disguise malicious files as normal files to trick users into clicking, such as files on a website which can be downloaded, or it can be included in the attachment of the email. After execution, the hacker directly invades the user's computer. There are many ways for hackers to make profits such as the most commonly seen ransomware, botnets, and even mining for bitcoins.

Disguising the file is much simpler than expected, and it is easy to be ignored. Take the following picture as an example. If you look closely, you can see that this is an html file named test_lmth.txt, but if you don't pay special attention to it and click it as a file, you will go directly to the hacker's website.

The real file name of this file is test_\u202Etxt.html, but in addition to the Unicode "\u202E" itself will not be displayed, the text behind it will be displayed upside down. It is test_txt.html to the system. The reason for the inversion is because the system is designed to correctly display right-to-left languages such as Arabic and Hebrew, but it can be used by hackers to disguise files.

Actual case:
Malicious spam campaigns delivering banking Trojans
News resource:

# Unwittingly leaked information

Some of the leaked information is provided by users voluntarily, such as providing data for account registration as mentioned above, or being defrauded by phishing attacks, or even the service provider accidentally leaking data, etc.

No matter what kind of data it is, users will provide their information at least once, but there is another part of the information that users unknowingly flow out. Since the former mainly involves with deception rather than technology, here we will only focus on the latter scenario.

# 1. Browse the website:

# 2. Receiving the email

# 3. Self-build

# How to protect yourself

In this era of rapid development of the Internet world, it’s quite impossible not to leave any data on the Internet even if you are afraid of data leakage. Then, how to protect our important data to avoid any loss?

# Solution 1: Security Settings

When Windows has cybersecurity problems, Microsoft is more nervous than you, and the same principle applies to other services. In order to protect the security of their products, developers usually do a lot of protection. This is also why many software often run updates without users feeling the new features. The main reason is that the system protection is actually updated, but users often do not update or even turn off the protections that are turned on by default for convenience. Those protections are often more important than antivirus software. Here are some security settings related to data leakage. Indeed, the updates are also important.

# Solution 2: Two-Factor Authentication (2FA)/Two-Step Verification (2SV)

The most commonly seen on the Internet is the account, password and another authentication mechanism. For example, when logging in, in addition to the account and password, a set of verification codes sent to the mobile phone is required, so even if your account and password are obtained or guessed by hackers, they couldn’t do you harm if they didn’t steal your mobile phone together. However, this kind of function will increase the troubles for users. Not every service is preset with multi-authentication. In many cases, users need to actively activate or apply for it. It is strongly recommended that the authentication settings are activated on all payment-related services.

The difference between 2FA (two-factor authentication) and 2SV (two-step verification) is whether the additional verification type is the same as the original one. For example, besides the original password, if a service requires the last 4 digits of ID numbers as the second set of passwords, since it is still a password, it can only be regarded as 2SV. If an additional fingerprint is required, it can be regarded as 2FA.

# Solution 3: Fake accounts

Nowadays, more and more services on the Internet use email as an account. Here we recommend a very useful software tool to create a one-time account to avoid receiving spam or someone trying to crack into your mailbox. This tool will randomly generate a set of emails that can be received and will be permanently deleted after 10 minutes, so there is no need to worry about the leakage of the information inside.

# Solution 4: Protection software

Although some websites will notify you before collecting your information, many websites still collect your information secretly. Here we recommend a very useful Chrome suite to help you prevent some tracking. In fact, this tool is already shown in the previous example.

# Conclusion

Many people leak a lot of information without knowing, but they don't feel it hurts. They think hackers won't target at them, but it's just that hackers aren't sure whether they can get enough returns for spending time attacking you, just like a thief does. Before they commit a crime, they will confirm whether the target is a rich person, or any surveillance camera or anti-theft systems are installed, etc.
Therefore, the concept of preventing data leakage is actually very close to the concept of not leaking your financial status in real life. Deliberately showing off your richness on the road may not be a problem, but the police will definitely advise you not to do this unless you are prepared to have a bunch of bodyguards behind you.

The highest priority in personal information protection is payment-related data (eg. credit card). If you need to leave payment data on the Internet, it is best to first confirm whether the service supports multi-factor authentication, although multi-factor authentication requires one more step. It is troublesome for the users, but it is more troublesome for hackers. In most cases, it is so troublesome that hackers eventually give up attacking you. In fact, this also means that this protection method is very effective.

The highest priority in the system information protection is IP. Generally, users use floating IP by default, so even if the information is leaked, it is not affected since it is difficult to connect to your computer by floating IP. Therefore, unless you have installed certain protection settings, we will suggest you not to change to the fixed IP for the self-built website. In that case, hackers can't find the door and you don't have to worry about the door being breached.

There are various ways of data leakage for the website. In addition to what we demonstrate previously, there are many other methods. It is recommended to use automated tools to detect first and give priority to confirm whether the data flowing out is related to high-risk vulnerabilities and fix the problems related to the vulnerabilities. if you can't fix it right away, try to at least hide the version information.

We have provided some simple examples in previous sections. In fact, there’re more advanced techniques. If there’re more views in this article, we will write other articles to share advanced techniques and examples. Feel free to comment below for any cybersecurity questions or contact us through Cymetrics website.



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