ACTION INSIGHTS : CUTTING THROUGH THE CLUTTER

Hackers and spamming will get worse, protect yourself now

Over the next 5 years hacking and online attacks will increase 100 fold

Hackers and spamming will get worse, protect yourself now – If you have not been hacked, then you can be 100% sure you will get hacked to some degree. You want to take proactive steps to mitigate the damage before it happens, to prevent hacking and online website attacks. Below are some FAQs about Hacks, Malware, Trojans and Infections. There are 10 basic reasons hackers will infect a website or computer network. We will offer some suggestions and common sense pro-active steps you can take to protect your assets.

Bragging Rights
Hackers are a close knit of coders who fly under the radar. They are going to hack a website simply because they can. A method used to penetrate a websites’ defenses are SQL injections via a website contact form, whereby they can upload common default (home page) files such as default and index in combination with a long list of standard Windows file extensions (htm, html, asp, aspx and cfm).

These types of hacks are quickly remedied by a reputable hosting provider who will clean out these malicious files and set your home or default document file to exclude all other files except the real or actual homepage.

Personal vendetta
Personal online attack occurs when someone is fixated on taking a website or a network down for personal reasons. Whether you are the owner of a small business website or a have a huge corporate network such as Sony (Sony suffered a huge DOS or Denial of Service attack in 2014), this kind of attack is extremely frustrating to any business. In most cases no one really knows why they are being attacked. Your hosting company can detect IP addresses of the computers who are launching the attack and take steps to block the offending IPs. In some cases an attacker will attack a companies’ reputation by posting hundreds of negative comments on Blogs and Website directories that allow anonymous postings.

If this happens do not hesitate to reply with your own comments. And be polite. People know the difference between a person who a raving maniac and someone who is a reasonable individual. Also take a moment you read our article , Defending Against Damaging Blogs Targeting You.

Political statement
There are hot spots and unrest all over the globe and at home in the United States. Nothing inflames the passions of individuals and groups like ‘politics’. A person or group will look to take down a website’s homepage or the entire website and replace it with their own political message. As previously mentioned, these types of attacks are SQL injections.

Your hosting provider or web master can clean out the malicious files and set your home or default document file to exclude all other files except the real or actual homepage.

Hidden advertising or links as spam
In most cases an actively hacked or infected website will get flagged by the Google search engine and display a message in your website listing. Some warnings on Google or your website browser might include: This site may harm your computer or This website site may contain malware. In most cases there is some code running on your website that serves up spam thousands of spam pages filled with link to pages that have Google Ad codes or other advertising codes that pay the spammer(s) per page view or by clicks on the spam filled pages. The spam page advertising business receives millions of dollars each year from reputable advertising companies via the spam pages buried in otherwise legitimate websites whose owners have no clue that their website has been infected.

The best remedy is a complete website restore from an earlier period. (Hopefully you do regular backups) Otherwise you will need to have a web developer download your website files and database and perform a local analysis of your website. Some other alternatives include signing up for a 3rd party security/ file cleaning service such as Sucuri.net or Sitelock.com.

Gaining access to sensitive information
A hacker may gain access to your personal information and logins by using a ‘Trojan’ program called a key-logger. This records the keystrokes on your computer. Other hackers or even nation states look to penetrate government and corporate networks in order to gain financial, technical, personal and other sensitive information. Unsuspecting person’s click a website link or email link resulting in an infection.

If you suspect that you have been hacked, purchase a strong Anti-virus. I cannot recommend one product over another, but we use Avast Premier and Super Anti Spyware on our office computers.

Miss-Representation by mail, phone or online
Person’s might receive a domain renewal notice by mail or online warning them that their domain name is going to expire. Persons unwary of this scam will unwittingly transfer their domain name to another company who will take control of your domain name, then lock the domain, leaving you no recourse. See: Protecting Your Domain name
If you unwittingly fall prey to this scam, contact your original domain registrar and have them lock your domain immediately.

Other scams related scams include person’s representing themselves as a Microsoft representative, informing you that they have detected a virus in your computer. Unwary persons will give them access via an emailed link. Once you click this link they will take control of your computer and deposit a Trojan file so they may return at any time to take control of your machine.

Another scam has a Google representative calling you to inform that your free Google listing has not been activated. Hang-up immediately when you get these calls. Google never calls anyone about any Google products.

Computer and Network Slave Infections
Hackers will infect a computer, network or browser and use the machine resources and Internet connection for illegal activities; personal, financial or otherwise. Essentially the hackers are not after the computer or network files, rather they want to use the machine and Internet connection as an online slave that allows them to hide their activities and makes it literally impossible to trace as they connect or ‘Hop’ from machine to machine or network to network.

If you suspect that you have been hacked, purchase a strong Anti-virus. If you have a larger network of computers you should consult your IT representative.

Locking or encrypting computer files- aka ‘Ransomware’
Ransonware happens to businesses more than you can imagine. The only time you hear about a Ransomware attacks aka crypto-locker attack is when it happens to a business or organization doing business as a public interest such as a hospital, city, or state government agency. Hackers demand a financial payment usually paid in Bitcoin in order to have their computer files unlocked. When this happens to a private business, they are most likely going to make the ransom payment without having to inform their customers or clients. Technology businesses are becoming more adept in defeating the encrypted files, but as hackers detect the fix they will return to thwart the protection. (It’s a never ending battle between hackers and IT engineers.

If you suspect that you have been infected by Ransom ware you should consult your IT representative to get their help immediately. Don’t try and negotiate with a Ransom ware hacker on your own.

Email spam zombie attacks
This happens when hackers gain access to your website or computer to send out tens of thousands of emails for all the reasons mentioned above. If this happens to you where your email resides on a hosting companies email servers such as Go Daddy, Host Gator, iPower, Gmail, Yahoo mail, Outlook mail and others the engineers at these respective companies will shut down your email access until the problem is corrected. If your hosting company has a lousy reputation for thwarting email attacks, your email domain name may get blocked when you are sending email to others. Email spam is big business. ISP (Internet Service Providers) and hosting companies take spam very seriously. Email spam scams are a multi-billion dollar business.

If this happens to you, obtain an alternate email service to use while your website and email server is accessed. An online security service such as Sucuri.net or Sitelock.com can help you get things cleaned up in less than 24 hours.

All hackers are persistent, half measures will not suffice
Once a hacker tastes blood they will return and return again. They cruise the web like predators looking for injured Zebras. They sniff open Internet ports; seek out weak FTP logins, weak website logins, unprotected or out of date server hosting and websites. They even poke, probe and troll persons over social networks and business listings. They will contact you with fake emails containing malware links, pretending to be one of your friends, family or business associates. They will send fake ‘Friend’ requests over Facebook; they will send you SMS messages with malware links. There is no amount of protection that too expensive within reason given your own circumstances.

Security is all about being vigilant about e-mail and computer access. Keep your computer updated, update your software, use strong computer anti-virus browser spam blocking, use strong passwords on your computer and Wi Fi.

And never let down your defenses.your guard down.

Virginia Website Development Experts

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Visionefx President Ricardo Vidallon has been in the creative business of design advertising, branding, marketing, cable broadcast, animation and the World Wide Web for more than three decades.

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