Top 5 Ways Cyber Criminals find their Victims Online

The Internet in the past decade, have moved from being just an information super high to a worldwide market place and converging point for virtually every aspect of human endevour. Life without an access to the internet is becoming so outdated that everyone, including businesses and governments, have come to make the Internet a home.

Everyone want to have online presence, either for social reasons, economic, educational or for governance. So terms such as e-learning, e-governance, e-commerce, e-banking, e-meeting etc, are now common terminology used in our everyday life

The advantages of having an online presence is so enormous and this also comes with an atendant danger. This danger is the exposure to the possibilities of being a victim of cyber crime. Anyone who goes to the Internet have one reeason or the other. Some persons motive online, is to take advantage of the rush in other to disposes others of their valuable assets. Such crimes as cyber fraud, cyber bullying, cyber stulking, hate speech, hacking, international espionage are so prevalent now.

Cyber crooks are online daily, monitoring and seeking victims to attack. There are basic strategies that they applyy to get a victim started in their lead to strike. So as an Internet user, it is important you have an idea of the prevailing appraoch and how to safe guard yourself. Note that, cyber attack is something that no one is immune from, it is just a matter of when. But with a basic knowledge on their tactics and the things you need to do, you can reduce your risk of being a victim.

The essence of the post is  xray five basic ways  fraudsters find their victim. Getting the victim to respond to their trick is the first point of attack. Let’s look at some of the appraoches.

Social Media Profiling

The crave for likes and followers on Social media can be exciting and it make users want to share their daily lives with their virtual community, but there is a need for caution. Some persons in other to impress their online friends go ahead to share detailed personal information that can give them away to an attacker. A simple search around social media following some trends, reveal their location, family, where they go, what they are doing and how much affluence they display. Sharing way too much with online firends, especially those whom you have not met or really know, can present you as a target for cyber attack.

In order to reduce the risk of falling a victim of cyber crime via social media, ensure you

  • Do not leave your smart device location on while on the move, except when necessary.
  • Do not share personal information that you ordinarily would not want to share with a stranger
  • Do not give details of your daily routine
  • Ensure the privacy settings on your social media profile is safely set.

Vulnerability Scanning

Vulnerability scanning is an automated process of identifying security vulnerabilities, weaknesses and flaws in network systems and  applications. It is mostly a part of cyber security management strategy used by security professionals to identify flaws in order to forestall a breach.

In the same way, cyber attacks can be initiated by an attacker running random automated scanning on targeted systems, in a bid to discover and exploit any identified vulnerability. For instance, vulnerability scanning can identify poorly configured routers. This will prompt the attacker to mark the router as a victim for subseqquent exploitation.

To keep your organisation away from falling victim to cyber attacks, it is essential you conduct vulnerability scan periodical to identify the weakness and fix it before an attacker does. This will also help you determine the effectiveness of your cyber security control measures.

The Dark web

The dark web which is sometimes termed ‘the unseen Internet’, refers to content that is not indexed by search engines and that requires special software or authorization to access. Dark web content resides on the darknet, a part of the internet accessible by using special browsers or through special network configurations.

The dark web is designed to provide anonymity to its users by keeping communications and transactions private. This is where the “dark” came from.

The darknet is simply an anonymous space on the web that can be used for good or abused and applied for illicit activities. Though the initial essence of the darnet was to protect identity of activists and whistle blowers, it is now used for illegal activities. It is  possible to buy and sell illegal drugs, malware, and prohibited content in darknet marketplaces.

So hackers use the darkenet to source stolen identities with the mind of targeting those identities. Hackers sell email acconts, social media profiles and other personal information that can be used to carry out identifty theft.

If for any reason you need to use the dark web, ensure you have strong security protection. The darknet can actually be dangerous. It is a risky place to play around; it is a common place for scams and malware. Ensure you know your way around and you have the right safegaurding software installed.

Information Brokers

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Anytime there is a data breach or compromise, the focus is always on the hackers who exploit the information to attack their victim. But there is another culprit along the chain of compromise. They are the data brokers or information brokers. These are companies who collect personal data, social media profile, credit card details etc and sale it to a third part without any due diligence and restriction.

Information brokers use various means to source their information. Some of them include;

  • Through forms voluntarily filled by consumers or prospects for survey, sweeptaker entries, online context, free resources and so on.
  • Access to gvernement reords such as vehicle license records, medical records, birth, marriage, divorce and death records, census demographic data, telephone directories, voter registrations, national ID records, etc.
  • Social Media profile harvesting; WhatsApp, Facebook, LinkedIn
  • Licensing or sourcing of information from other data brokers, retailers, and financial institutions

Whenever an information broker makes a sale, more data is released to the open. Unfortunately the broker often can not gaurantee the identity and intentions of the buyer. So the buyer can be a hacker sourcing for potential attack victims.

Due to the need for the supply of information across various websites in order to access their services, there is not much online users can do in this case. Rather it is on the regulators to do more in other to protect internet users through data protection regulations.

Indiscriminate Targeting

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This is the processs where an attacker has no specific focus on the likely victim to attack. They just target as many devices, services or users as possible, applying different range of techniques that leverage on the openess of the Internet space.

Some of the techniques may include phishing, spaming, ransomware, waterholing and malware attacks.

Indiscrimate targetting is an opportunistic form of victim targetting. There is always a calculation in the mind of the attacker that a good percentage of the potential victims will respond to their bet and open the door for compromise.

In order to reduce the danger of being exposed to online attacks, there is a need for deliberate cyber security awareness across all levels of education and organisations. Also businesses and government extablshments needs to do more in protecting all personal records of customers and citizens so as to gaurantee a fair amount of integrity and protection.

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