When Hackers Attack: How Hackers steal your money, information - WDRB 41 Louisville News

When Hackers Attack: How Hackers steal your money, information and secrets

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- If the internet has become the Wild West for cyber criminals, it takes just moments to let the bad guy walk right through the front door.

We asked a group of cyber experts to show us the new attacks hackers are using to steal your money, information and secrets and how easy it is to fall victim.

It's the hidden war being waged online and it’s not just Hillary Clinton's Campaign Chairman or celebrities who are targets.

So, how prevalent is hacking?

“We're very concerned and it’s very prevalent,” explained FBI Special Agent, Stephen Oakes.  “It seems like it’s a problem that gets worse and worse.”

Is everything hackable?

“If it turns on,” said University of Louisville Assistant Professor, Dr. Adrian Lauf. 

The Attacks

So How Do Hackers Strike?

Professor Lauf showed us how one email could take over your computer.

“I've created something that says urgent message from President Pinto," Lauf said. "Dear University of Louisville Faculty please click here to view an important message …”

That link takes you to what looks like a document viewer, and without much thought, you click.

“Something changed here and I now have full control of this machine.”

Very basic phishing attacks like these work because hackers can bypass any kind of firewall you've set up because you've invited them in.

“People are notoriously trustworthy. People tend to trust when they shouldn't,” Lauf said.

Here's another example: Information Security Expert Steven Ramirez was able to download basic software he found for free on the internet to create a very real looking fake Facebook log in. Without reservation, you type in your email and password, and it's sent straight to the attacker's computer.

“No one would really ever guess or think that this is a fake Facebook log in page,” explained Ramirez. “I could do it with eBay, any banking site …”

If hackers are looking for your password information, it's scary just how much personal data is out there without you knowing making it easy for them to crack the code.

Information Security Consultant, Adrian Crenshaw, show us the free site FamilyTreeNow.com.

“There's a site you can go into and basically find anybody's relations," Crenshaw said. “Who they're related to, the addresses they've been at the last several years ...”

You type in your name and find information about yourself, your spouse, your siblings, even your address. 

“Being able to go to a site like this and find out, oh, this is your first child's name, that's one of the password reset questions, oh now I have you,” Crenshaw said.

These are very basic tricks of the hacking trade but FBI Special Agent Stephen Oakes sees much more. Have you heard of Ransomware?  It's when hackers corrupt your files with a virus and then make you pay.

“It will encrypt those to the point that you can't access them without paying a ransom,” Oakes explained. 

Doxxing is when a hacker steals your personal information and spreads it all over the internet.

“Sometimes you will see that used for ruining people's credit or harassment.”

Hackers secretly use your computer as a weapon in a Denial of Service Attack when they overload a website to the point it crashes.

What’s Next?

As scary as all of this sounds cyber experts are concerned about what's next.  At this point, your iPhone or Android is considered pretty secure but maybe not for long.

“I do think it’s just a matter of time the wrong people get good a monetizing the effort to infect more of those phones and we know the malware already exists,” Oakes said. 

But phones are just the start.

“There's always a way to breach something. Now how difficult is it? That's an entirely different subject,” Lauf said.

We live in a world of what the experts call "the internet of things," and can include anything in your own home from your security system, to your thermostat to your smoke detector. If it's connected to the internet, it’s hackable.

The potential for hackers and the danger seems endless and unfortunately human nature is the weakest link.

“When you started crossing the road as a kid  your parents told you to look both ways we don’t know how to teach people very well how to look both ways digitally,” Lauf explained.

Avoid Becoming a Victim

The experts we spoke with say there are some simple things you can do to avoid becoming a victim:

  • Anti-virus Software: Have an up to date version running on your computer.
  • Freeze Your Credit: Contact all three credit bureaus, TransUnion, Equifax and Experian. That way if someone does steal your information they can't open anything new in your name.
  • Report to the FBI: Report any cybercrime to www.ic3.gov

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