Compromised Computers Are Targeted by Botnets. Secure Your Passwords NOW!

Data breaches continue to be a huge problem. Every month new companies, organizations, and institutions experience data breaches. According to an infographic, Yahoo is the company that has faced the biggest data breach so far by the number of compromised data records. While it is at the very top of the list, it is no doubt not the only company affected by hackers. River City Media, Aadhaar, MySpace, and even eBay are a few other companies that have experienced a data breach at least once. Since personal information is still one of the most desirable assets these days, it is not very likely that the problem will dissipate soon. Data breaches are not the only issue that raises specialists' concern today. They have also observed an increase in bot-driven attacks as well. As the latest cybercrime statistics show, the number of attacks that involved bots has increased by 62% over the last year and reached 210 million attacks in total.

The rising popularity of bot-driven attacks

Specialists working at ThreatMetrix say that bot-driven attacks have affected the e-commerce industry the most. It is now believed that e-commerce transactions are 10 times more likely to be fraudulent if compared to ordinary financial transactions. This can be clearly illustrated by 150 million rejected transactions over the quarter in 2018, which has increased by 88% if compared to the same time period last year. Let's talk about cyber attacks that involve bots in more detail. Cybercriminals use various automated tools to perform malicious attacks and, on top of that, they make use of compromised computers, smartphones, and other IoT devices all connected to a botnet. Hackers would not even bother performing malicious activities if they knew that they would not get anything out of this. Mainly, a combo of automated software and a botnet is used to carry out the so-called brute force attack. "What is a brute force attack?", you may ask. Technopedia provides the following definition: "A brute force attack is a trial-and-error method used to obtain information such as a user password or personal identification number (PIN)." In other words, hackers can guess passwords if they perform this cyber attack.

Hackers can guess passwords without difficulty

Compromised computers might be taken over and connected to a botnet by hackers with the intention of launching account validation attacks, brute force attacks for password cracking, and performing a wide variety of other malicious activities cybercriminals come up with. Without a doubt, brute force attacks, i.e. testing password and user login combinations are performed the most frequently. Once a match is found, cybercriminals try to automatically log into hundreds of different websites using the password/login combo the performed brute force attack has revealed. When the login is successful, hackers try to take over that account for further use. Speaking about e-commerce websites, hacked users' accounts might be used to make unauthorized purchases. Later, purchased items are resold for profit. This is called the account takeover or credential stuffing. According to researchers, bot-driven attacks are becoming more and more prevalent. Also, what worries specialists the most is that their complexity and sophistication grows.

What to do to make sure hackers cannot guess passwords

It is not news that hackers can guess passwords. A bunch of malicious techniques might be used against you, but it does not mean that there is nothing you can do to protect yourself from a cyber attack. While you cannot do anything to prevent large data breaches that affect companies and organizations, you can improve your online security to a great extent by simply setting a secure password. We hope that you belong to those 34% of Internet users who are very concerned about their online accounts being hacked and thus will take action immediately.

First of all, let's talk about how a secure password immune to hacking looks like. Security specialists say that a strong password must necessarily contain both upper case and lower case letters. Second, it must include several numbers. Third, it must contain characters like !, @, and #. Finally, it must be of a sufficient length. Specialists used to say that a perfect password consists of at least 8 characters, but the growing number of cyber attacks has modified this recommendation a little bit. Nowadays, it is considered that a secure password has no less than 14 characters in total. If you struggle to come up with a secure password yourself, let Cyclonis Password Manager help you. It has an integrated Password Generator that will generate a password for you in the blink of an eye. Additionally, you will immediately see how secure it is.

As you already perfectly know, hackers might use brute force attacks to hack your accounts. If they get one account's password, others might get hacked in no time as well if they have the same password set. Therefore, you cannot let yourself use the same password on multiple websites. Do not forget that services you use might experience data breaches as well. In such an unfortunate event, your password together with your login might end up on the web. As a consequence, anyone could access your accounts sharing the same password – no hacking needed, just ordinary data entry. You should not share your passwords with unauthorized people for the same reason as well.

Your computer might become a "zombie" too. Prevent this from happening!

It is no doubt very important to take certain security measures like strengthening passwords to lower the chances of experiencing a bot-driven attack, but it is also a must to protect the computer so that it could not be infected and connected to a botnet by cybercriminals in order to perform brute force attacks. The best way to make sure it does not become a part of a botnet is to ensure its security. You can do so by installing antivirus/antimalware software and activating a firewall. Also, since a computer cannot become a part of a botnet without special malicious software installed on it, be very careful with all your downloads, advertisements you click, and files you open. Last but not least, security researchers recommend keeping software up to date and installing all the newest security patches.

All in all, the Internet is a dangerous place with cybercriminals constantly monitoring the web for security loopholes that could be exploited to achieve set malicious goals. Therefore, you must always set only secure passwords for your accounts to improve your virtual security. Do not forget to ensure the maximum computer's protection too so that your passwords could not be stolen directly from it and crooks could not connect it to a botnet to perform malicious activities.

By Foley
October 17, 2018
October 17, 2018

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