Differences Between Hollywood Hackers and the Real Deal

hackers

In many television shows and movies today, hackers and cybercriminals take the form of evil villains or mischievous antiheroes. While this characterization is undoubtedly fun to watch, they don’t quite get the facts right. Most of the computing constructs demonstrated in entertainment don’t actually exist in real life. This week, let’s discuss what real-life hackers are like, and how they’re different from your favorite computer genius characters.

Hacking Isn’t So Up Tempo

In entertainment, hacking is often portrayed as a fast-paced exercise. Typically, the hacker completes their job in minutes, if not seconds, while exciting music races in the background. The actual work that the, always handsome, hacker is doing consists of typing about 20 lines of code with no mistakes, having a quick revelation as the music swells, and finishing with a flourish of key pressing that results in the victim’s computer crashing or, even more ludicrous, spontaneously combusting. 

While not all television and movie representations are this dramatic, they’re usually still much faster than actual hacking.

Real hacking takes hours, if not more, and isn’t nearly as easy as entertainment makes it seem. Hackers are sometimes sitting in front of their computers for long periods of time reading hundreds of lines of code to try and find some vulnerability. 

Real Hacking Wouldn’t be Fun to Watch

The reason most entertainment platforms depict hacking this way is that the real stuff is…actually pretty boring. This characterization of the insanely smart and good-looking techy hacker that can make technology do anything they want it to is far from the truth. Hackers are usually just average people, or sometimes loners, that often work in a boring office setting to find cracks in networks so they can extract data. 

Real hackers often use automated tools to send out phishing emails, crack passwords, or create scams that fool users into giving them access to their information. None of which would be enjoyable to watch on television. 

Also, a hacker’s goal is usually to collect sensitive information or, at most, install malware on your device. The idea that with a few clicks a hacker could crash your computer or make it explode is absolutely preposterous. 

Why It’s Important to Know the Difference

You may be thinking, “but it’s just entertainment! Why do we care what real hackers do?”. Well, let’s face it, these acts are illegal, and glorifying them the way so many movies and television shows can make it seem like hacking is an acceptable or even cool thing to do. It’s not. Hacking is a crime and these unrealistic characterizations of hackers could give people the wrong impression about the reality of cybercriminals. 

So, should Hollywood change how they portray hackers in entertainment? Not necessarily. It’s true that these depictions of hackers are much more interesting to watch. However, it’s important to know that Hollywood hackers aren’t real and shouldn’t be taken seriously. If anything, view them as comic relief for how ridiculous they are.

What are your thoughts on hackers in movies and television? Do you have a favorite Hollywood hacker? Leave your comments below and check back soon for more great technology content!

Contact Us Today!

Here are the Online Threats You Need to be Concerned With

network security

Network security is a constant problem for many organizations, and it’s mostly because of the many advanced threats that make their homes on the Internet. Businesses that don’t have dedicated IT resources or security professionals do not know how to handle network security or appropriately protect their assets. Let’s examine some of the more common online threats that your business should be prepared to address. 

You can consider this a shortlist of potential security threats for your business. There are many different strains of malware, for example, so it would be impossible for us to include every single type here. 

The More Notorious Network Security Threats 

  • Viruses and malware:

     These are essentially bits of code that cause chaos for users with their effects ranging from mildly annoying to incredibly threatening. Many variants of malware are designed to fulfill a specific role, such as stealing data, installing adware, or encrypting files on a victim’s computer. 

  • Trojans and backdoors:

     Trojans are also known as backdoors, as they provide back-end access to the infected or compromised network/device. Hackers can then remotely execute code to pull off all kinds of problems for your business. These threats are often gateways for other, more dangerous threats. 

  • Unpatched vulnerabilities:

    Vulnerabilities are often discovered in older software, and in most cases when the software is supported, the developer will issue a patch. However, it is the business’s responsibility to implement them, and failing to do so can be problematic from a security standpoint. This is especially the case with unsupported software, like older operating systems. 

  • Phishing attacks:

    Phishing attacks are often used to spread other types of online threats or steal information like banking credentials or personal information. These can come in several different ways, like through email, fake websites, or even over the phone. 

Security Measures to Protect Yourself 

Your security strategy must contain two parts: the technology and the people using that technology. For technology, we recommend you implement tools like a Unified Threat Management (UTM) device, a tool that combines common security measures like an antivirus, firewall, spam blocker, and content filter. You should also invest in a virtual private network for secure data access and multi-factor authentication for account security. 

To make sure your employees are not putting your company at risk from online threats, you must properly train them to identify and respond to threats. They must know how to report a security breach to your IT department as well, even if they are not an in-house department. 

4 Corner IT can help your business succeed in network security. To learn more, reach out to us at 954-474-2204. 

How Prevent Your Network from Being Sold By Hackers

Locked computer ransomware with hands holding money and key flat vector illustration

Believe it or not, your organization’s network can be sold by hackers under the right circumstances. This is the unfortunate reality that we live in, where the commoditization of data and network access has become a real problem. According to a study from KELA, hackers can sell access to compromised networks for a pittance compared to the amount of work you have invested in building your business. If you have your business’s network sold by hackers, it could create a snowball effect of events that can lead to your business’s downfall. Therefore, you must do everything in your power to protect your network and prevent this from happening.

This report from KELA followed Initial Access Brokers, a term used to describe threats that sell access to compromised network infrastructures. These threats are big players in the world of cybercrime, as they can effectively facilitate some of the most devastating threats out there, including ransomware and remote access threats. The report examined one full year of listings by Initial Access Brokers to discover how much value can be assigned to this type of network access.

It is quite shocking to see just how little value is associated with access to your network. Out of the 1,000 listings, KELA found that the average price of network access credentials was about $5,400, with the median price being around $1,000. Other trends examined included the average price of credentials, as well as information on industries affected and countries affected. The top countries affected were the United States, France, the United Kingdom, Australia, and Canada. Top industries affected included manufacturing, education, IT, banking/financial, government, and healthcare.

Just take a moment to imagine how much chaos someone could inject into your business simply by purchasing access to your infrastructure. All it takes is a small investment and access to a VPN for someone to start causing some real trouble for your business. There are quite a few ways that you can minimize the damage done through these methods, including the following:

  • Implement comprehensive security measures

    In terms of sheer security, we recommend unified threat management, or UTM, to handle most of the threats your business could face. This all-in-one solution includes security measures such as a firewall, antivirus, content filter, and spam blocker to minimize exposure to threats.

  • Monitor your network traffic

    If you keep track of who logs onto your network, when, and where they are logging in from, you’ll have a greater chance of identifying suspicious traffic patterns.

  • Implement multi-factor authentication

    Password security is still important, but not nearly as important as having additional measures in place. Multi-factor authentication can help make sure that people logging into your network are who they say they are.

  • Take regular backups of your infrastructure

    You never want to use your data backup, but having it never hurts, and it will give you a nuclear option in the event that someone does manage to gain unauthorized access to your network.

If you have your business’s network sold by hackers, it can damage your business’s entire operations. To learn more about how you can protect your business, reach out to us at (954) 474-2204.