The word “hacking” can have a number of meanings depending on who you ask and how deeply entrenched in the culture they are. For most of us, it’s a generic catch-all term we use to describe the nefarious use of a computer to gain access to someone else’s data – whether it’s for financial, personal, or political gain. That fuzzy understanding leaves a lot of folks concerned about “hacking” in a general, almost philosophical sense. We don’t want Russian hackers to affect the outcome of our elections, and we don’t think perverts should be allowed to sell nude photos of celebrities they steal from the cloud, but politicians and celebrities are high-profile targets and we aren’t. “Hacking” – whatever that means – is a problem for other people, not us.
The thing is, most of the methods employed by these “hackers” aren’t the keyboard magic we’ve grown accustomed to seeing on TV. Often, it’s a numbers game. Criminals aren’t usually digital “snipers” – choosing a target and going after them; they’re more like machine gunners, spraying rounds downrange and tagging anyone foolish or unlucky enough to peek their heads up from behind cover. Instead of bullets, they use Trojans and other kinds of malware that come disguised as normal enough downloads, but actually grant them access to your computer, and all of the data contained within it.
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