Brute forcing used to be easier and there were once a lot more backdoors. However, while the hacking game may have become harder for the hacker, that doesn’t mean they haven’t continued to evolve and find ingenious new ways to gain access. In both the cases of malicious hacking, and just hacking to get control of our own property, the world of cyber security is a many headed hydra that grows two heads for every one you cut off.
10. Phone Phreaking May Mostly Be Over, But There Are Still A Number Of Tricks
Back in the day of pay phones and analog landlines, there were quite a number of incredible tricks people could do using the phone system. These were basically the original hackers and they were often known as phone phreakers. Among their many tricks, they could use certain frequencies to get themselves free long distance calls from any pay phone, and could hack into elevator phones to troll people in real time. While these sorts of tricks have been phased out of existence, there are still some useful little tricks you can do with phone codes.
There are quite a number of useful star codes, although many of them no longer require the star based on what type of mobile phone program you are using. If you use the 67 code you can hide your identity, and with the 69 code you can call back any number that just called you, although this doesn’t always work if their number is hidden. However, one of the most useful tricks that many people don’t know about is that you can often bypass the phone’s transfer system and dial an extension directly. On Android, you need to select the three dots when dialing the number and then add a 2 second pause before the extension. On Ios, you should be able to create this pause by holding the star key.
9. Hackers Are Looking For Unsecured Wifi Enabled Baby Monitors For Some Devilish Fun
Baby monitors today are often wifi connected and some even have cameras. They also often boast smartphone apps and other remote ways of viewing your baby from literally anywhere. This convenience is great, but it presents some risks. Unfortunately, there are malicious people out there who don’t consider even babies to be sacred from nasty trolling. These trolls are hacking into baby monitors and using voice changers to creep out the babies they manage to find vulnerable. Now, some may assume this is because people are not changing their passwords, but this is not always the case.
According to Chuck Beardsley from the cyber security company Rapid7, who did a study on baby monitors in 2015, they are woefully unprotected. Possibly because manufacturers just didn’t imagine people being so evil, they lack many of the common security features you see in modern computers. This means that even updating your firmware and changing your password may not always be enough. His recommendation is to go old school and get a baby monitor that is not connected to the internet.
8. Many Farmers Are Becoming Amateur Hackers So They Can Repair Their Own Equipment
When you think of hackers, you probably think of young people dressed up in crazy getups hiding in a dark room somewhere clacking away at a keyboard while muttering about how they just “got in”. What you usually don’t think of, is the average American farmer, out somewhere miles from any city. Unfortunately, due to a trend in the tech and automotive industry, farmers are now turning to hacking in order to repair and maintain their own equipment that they bought with their own money.
Companies like John Deer are notorious especially for locking down their firmware and having contracts that only allow repair and maintenance at specified dealerships. Farmers find this unacceptable because many of the dealerships are quite a distance from their farm, and the mechanics who are needed sometimes take too long to reach the dealership. This can cause serious crop losses, which John Deer will not compensate the farmers for, and according to the contracts they sign they can’t sue over it either. John Deer argues these rules are necessary to make sure John Deer products are kept safe and well maintained. However, the problem with this argument is that they are the ones who designed them to be this way in the first place, so this may not be the best line of defense for them to take.
7. A Computer With An Allegedly Unhackable Prototype Chip Has Held Up Well So Far In Testing
Many of us have been told that there basically is no such thing as an unhackable computer system. Common wisdom holds that given enough time, especially without constant counter defense, anything could be broken into. For the longest time this was true, but researchers at the University of Michigan have been working to end that by creating what they hope is a truly unhackable computer chip.
Dubbed “Morpheus” by its creators, the chip was attacked last year over a three month event by a team of 500 white hat hackers. No one was able to break through, and thus far the chip still remains unhacked. Now, this does not mean it will remain unhackable forever, as the creators have certainly thrown down the gauntlet to every hacker in the world who wants to make a name for themselves, but it is holding up remarkably well so far. The lead researcher, Todd Austin, explains that in less complicated terms, the reason it is so hard to hack is constantly altering. The metaphor he uses is that trying to hack Morpheus is like trying to solve a rubix cube that completely rearranges itself every time you blink.
6. Tesla Owners Have Also Found Themselves Hacking To Avoid Ridiculous Maintenance Fees
Tesla has become a very popular company lately as their electric cars are very high quality, and they have put together a very slick campaign over the years headed by their charismatic founder. The problem is that as cars become more and more computerized, especially electric cars on the cutting edge, they become more complex to fix and easier for companies to lock down. Tesla is very strict about locking down their systems to make it hard for amateurs or third party mechanics to repair them, but due to the incredibly high cost of some repairs at official sites, many are hacking the system and repairing their own Tesla anyways, or taking it to shops that will.
One man had his battery ruined by road debris and Tesla quoted him a bill of $16,000. A mechanic named Richard Benoit who fixes Teslas outside the system did it for $700. In another case, the same mechanic fixed a Tesla for $5,000 when Tesla had quoted the customer over $20,000 for the repair. When fans of Tesla and other groups asked Tesla for confirmation of these prices for repair, they refused to confirm or deny.
5. Some Scammers Now Call You First And Get You To Let Them In
As security for computers becomes increasingly harder to get into, many hackers are now looking for other ways to get in. A lot of hackers have decided that the easiest way to get into your computer is to just straight up ask you to let them in, and then do whatever they want once they are inside. Imagine a burglar who decides that instead of breaking into your home in the dead of night, he is going to convince you that he is a man coming to test your water supply, and then steal the electronics in your living room while you go to get him a glass of water from the kitchen.
This is basically the mindset behind one of the most popular new scams among hackers and thieves looking to get their hands on your information. They will call you up and claim you have a virus, or some special offer, or that they owe you money. In order to get rid of the virus or get the special offer, you need to connect with them using a program called teamViewer, which is sometimes used legitimately to remote connect and fix computer problems. The scam has become so prevalent that TeamViewer has official warnings about it on their website, and official police forces have handed out warnings to their citizens.
4. Password Reuse Is A Serious Security Vulnerability Many Don’t Think Of
Between streaming services, social media accounts, email, food apps, and every other service we encounter on the internet that wants us to sign up, it has become exhausting to keep making passwords for all of them. Many people these days do make complex passwords, but the problem is that a lot of people, out of sheer memory fatigue, often reuse their passwords across multiple accounts.
This is understandably tempting, but it can make you vulnerable to attack. Recently the cyber security firm TrustWatt found a cache located in the Netherlands of more than two million usernames and passwords across various sites, along with all sorts of other data they shouldn’t have on those people’s accounts. Unfortunately, 30% of these people were reusing passwords, which can make them very vulnerable to hackers who will just attempt your password and email across multiple sites you might use and see what happens. It might seem like an almost insurmountable problem to keep up a different and complex password for every single site, but there is a way. There are now multiple companies that make password managers that require you only to keep track of one master password, and they take care of the rest.
3. Ransomware Has Become A Serious Threat, And Cryptocurrency Helps Them Hide
Ransomware is a term used for a situation where hackers will lock you out of your own system, usually when your system is extremely critical. They will then demand a huge amount of payment as ransom in order to get control back. While these attacks have always existed, they used to be more focused on small fry. However, in recent years, it seems large hacker groups have decided that with mostly untraceable currencies like bitcoin, they might have a chance at going for the really big fish.
In particular, 2021 was a banner year for ransomware attacks on infrastructure though, and experts are hoping the companies will greatly increase their security due to the threat. In 2021 the Colonial oil pipeline that supplies half the gas to the East Coast was disrupted by a ransomware attack. A little further down geographically in Brazil in the same year, a ransomware attack disrupted service at two of the country’s largest power plants. And in Norway, an attack on water infrastructure caused a temporary disruption that affected 85% of the country’s water supply. Unfortunately, these were just the highlights from a very bad year for ransomware attacks on critical infrastructure.
2. Social Engineering Has Become Huge, So Keeping Your Social Media Private Is Important
Big social media companies, government websites, banks, and other juicy targets are becoming harder and harder to brute force or find a backdoor way through. Unfortunately, hackers have ingeniously found one easy way around this particular impediment. With more locked down systems, locked out users still need a way in, and that is where those security questions come in — and the hackers along with them.
The security questions give you a way to prove that you are you by answering questions only you could answer, especially if you get locked out of the email and can’t remember your password as well. Hackers, realizing this means with security questions they can trick their way into almost anything, have designed cute little Facebook quizzes and instagram memes to get people to divulge this information willingly. The Better Business Bureau has a warning not to answer these quizzes as people can use the information against you. As for further steps, if you are worried about attackers figuring it out through cleverly looking at your old posts, security expert Adam K. Levin suggests you could lie on your security questions — he just cautions keeping the lie consistent as forgetting your fake security question answer could cause a lot of problems.
1. The Right To Repair Movement Wants To Be Able To Hack And Fix Their Own Property
Easily the biggest evolution in hacking is that more and more these days, hacking has become a game to fix or modify items that we legally own. Out of this mess, the Right to Repair movement was born: a group of lawyers, enthusiasts, and lobbyists who are trying to get people proper rights to fix their own stuff.
Some people are confused about the need because in most cases we really do have the right to repair anywhere we want, and those warranty void stickers likely wouldn’t hold up under any real legal scrutiny. However, having the right to legally repair doesn’t necessarily give you the full right to repair. Many of these companies like John Deere have locked up their systems making it hard for an amateur to get in. And it affects more than farmers or Tesla owners — after so many people unlock their phones, telecoms started encrypting the bootloader to make it all but impossible to properly install custom roms.
Right to Repair is quite simple; it’s the idea that companies should not be legally allowed to make it unduly difficult for an amateur or third party mechanic with the right tools to fix or modify an item that you already own. President Biden recently signed an executive order telling the FTC to work on making it easier to fix electronics using a third party, but it is just a start.