January 18, 2014

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What a Hacker Is and Hacking Prevention Tips

What is a hacker, and what do they do? A hacker is someone who breaks into a computer to gain access, mostly to  steal information. The recent hack of Target’s customer database affecting as many as 110 million customers at last count is a perfect example. What are the most common hack types and hacking prevention tips?

Hack Types

Some of the most common hack types include:

  • Websites
  • Email
  • Networks
  • Password
  • Online banking
  • Computer

Less common hack types starting to get attention are those affecting car computers, medical devices, and automated homes and alarms. Basically, anything connected to a network, can be accessed remotely, or via an access point, such as a USB port, is hackable.

3 Common Hacker Types

No two hackers are the same. They go by various labels, depending on their intended goal, and believe it or not, some hackers hack to bring attention to weaknesses or loopholes in systems.

The most common types of hackers are:

  • White Hat Hackers are also known as ethical hackers. They do not hack with malicious intent and are, often, employed by companies to test their own systems.
  • Black Hat Hackers are the ones responsible for cybercrimes resulting in identity theft. They are always malicious.
  • Grey Hat Hackers are a hybrid of White Hats and Black Hats. Some hack to expose weaknesses in systems, offering to fix them for a fee.

We don’t have control over most hacks, such as those perpetrated at retailers. There are some things we can do, however, to minimize our risk at home.

5 Tips To Protect Against Hackers At Home

  1. Encrypt your home network
  2. Update your browsers and clear cookies
  3. Make sure you’re running a firewall
  4. Shut off the Bluetooth on your mobile device when not in use
  5. Install an anti-phishing and anti-keylogging software, such as Online Privacy Tools

Unfortunately, hackers will only continue to explore new ways to gain access to our information, whether it be at home, or during our travels. Take the time check your financials and monitor your credit.



Ezzy Languzzi

Ezzy is a working mother and educator. She writes from the perspective of a parent seeking to strike a balance between all that technology has to offer and its privacy implications. Ezzy lives in Boston with her husband, son, two dogs, and two chickens.