Do This and I Won’t Hack You: Top White Hat Hackers’ Advice

You’re not alone if you feel uneasy about hackers and what they do.

 

Yes, it seems they’re romanticized by the media (any Mr. Robot fans here?), but real hackers pose genuine threats to data security. Especially since we’re so prone to sharing our personal data, allowing all permissions when downloading apps, and connecting to public Wi-Fi spots without giving it a second thought.

 

But not all hackers are equally devious. Or are they? Let’s find out.

Black, grey, and white hat hacking

Let’s go through the terminology first.

 

30 years ago, the word “hacker” was used in reference to any person with high-level programming skills. Since then, the term became associated with those who used their technical knowledge to break into computer systems. Today, it’s how, where, and why people use their skills that make them hackers: white, grey, or black ones.

 

Black hacking

This is the most evil type of hacking. Black hat hackers break into computer systems with malicious intent. They do it professionally for different reasons such as stealing sensitive data, disrupting a company’s business or service, locking a computer, etc. Unsurprisingly, black hat hacking is illegal and punishable by law.

 

Grey hacking

These hackers illegally break into systems for different reasons, but usually not for personal gain or unlawful motives. This means they sometimes violate the law but are still not as vile as black hat hackers.

 

White hacking

This is legal, rewarded, and follows a good cause. White hat hackers are often hired by companies to test the security of their systems and products. Also known as ethical hackers, they break into a protected system, find security “holes”, and help companies apply fixes before someone abuses them. They make the technological world better and more secure, improve systems, and help enhance the fight against cybercriminals.

 

We are here to inform you about personal online security, not scare you. So let’s review some of the top online security tips from white hat hackers.

Online security tips from white hat hackers

Now, let’s explore some of the most common hacking techniques on the web and some useful tips on how to protect yourself from hackers.

 

Bait and switch

Using this method, a hacker buys ads on different websites, then switches the link or content from one people think they’re clicking to something totally different. When users click on an ad like this, they are usually directed to a website infected with viruses.

 

How to protect yourself

Don’t click on suspicious ads and make sure you only download applications from reputable websites. If you see a pop-up window or an ad with too “promising” a headline, it’s probably wise to steer clear. Also, installing an ad blocker will keep you from such ads (and, well, almost all ads).

 

At Clario, we’re developing an all-round security solution to help both protect you from malicious websites and block annoying ads.

 

Man in the middle

Imagine you’re entering some sensitive data such as your password on a webpage. While the password is sent to some server out there, a hacker “breaks in” to steal this data.

 

How to protect yourself

Don’t enter any secure information when connected to a public Wi-Fi spot. If you really need to, by all means, use a Virtual Private Network (VPN). VPNs encrypt the data you enter and hide your IP address.

 

Cookie theft technique

Relax, nobody will steal your chocolate chip cookies. But in the world wide web, cookies are small files that keep track of your online activity and store the data you’ve entered on different websites. A tasty treat for hackers perhaps? Computer hackers steal cookies to reveal different information about you and your recent browsing behaviour as well as hack your personal accounts.

 

How to protect yourself

Turn off the “Save Password” feature in your browser. Instead, use a reliable password manager. And if you’ve stumbled upon a suspicious website, you can check it with the help of Google’s Safe Browsing tool.

 

It's also a good idea to track your recent online activity with Google. If you notice any unrecognized activity, your session might have been hacked. You should also clear your cookies once a month to protect your privacy.

 

Phishing

Imagine a fisherman who casts out their bait, hoping the fish will bite it. Phishing is like that. You get a message that seems relevant and harmless at first sight, like a message from your bank. However, when you click a link in it, you’re redirected to a website looking exactly like your bank’s website. Then, you enter your credentials to log into your account, inadvertently submitting this data directly to a hacker.

 

How to protect yourself

Don’t click on shortened links: hackers often use them to direct you to a fake site. Don’t click any links in dangerous emails asking you to do something urgently or download shady attachments. Always examine the URL of the website you are on: any typos are a sign of fake websites. Look for a padlock in your browser’s address bar to ensure the website is secure before entering any info.

 

Password spraying

Password spraying is a method in which a hacker goes through a list of the most commonly used passwords. The hacker has a list of usernames, then enters passwords to find a match.

 

How to protect yourself

Create strong passwords by making sure they are at least ten characters long and have special symbols. You can also check out this list of easily hackable passwords to ensure yours is not among them.

 

Now when you know how to protect yourself on the internet, let’s pay a tribute to the most famous white hackers whose mission is to improve the security of our digital life.

Most famous white hat hackers on the internet

 

Steve Wozniak

If we hadn’t made blue boxes, there would have been no Apple.”

— Steve Jobs

 

Steve Wozniak, a co-founder of Apple, started his hacking experience by designing “blue boxes”. These devices were made for hacking the telephone network to make long-distance calls for free, alongside Steve Jobs. According to Wozniak, it was all for the sake of curiosity and interest in how telecommunication systems work.

 

Later on, Wozniak played a crucial role in creating the first Apple computers by designing the hardware, circuit boards, and operating systems.

 

➡️Follow Steve on Twitter and LinkedIn

 

Charlie Miller

 

Charlie Miller is an American computer security researcher. He was the first to hack an iPhone, find a critical bug in MacBook Air, and crack Safari. On top of giving Apple developers something to think about, Charlie is also famous for car hacking. Several years ago, he hacked Jeep Cherokee, managing to command a vehicle from a distance. Charlie discovered a vulnerability in the system allowing anyone with the car’s IP address to send instructions to the engine. The importance of findings like this is hard to overestimate.

 

➡️Follow Charlie on Twitter and LinkedIn

 

Kevin Mitnick

 

Kevin is the world’s most famous and controversial hacker. At the age of 17, he wiretapped the National Security Agency and listened to their conversations. As Kevin said, he was not interested in stealing any information. He did it just because of his passion for hacking and accepting challenges.

 

Kevin has hacked over 40 major corporations just for the sake of it. In 1995, he was arrested for five years for stealing valuable data from organizations including IBM, Novell, and Nokia. Today, Kevin works as a computer security consultant and runs his own cybersecurity company.

 

➡️Follow Kevin on Twitter and LinkedIn

 

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We hope these tips from white hat hackers will help you stay safer on the web. Still, hackers are always on the lookout for new ways to get a hold of your data. So keep on reading Clario’s blog, learn how to protect your right to digital privacy, and secure your digital life. Stay safe out there!

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