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Computer security testing comment and analysis from SE Labs

Hands up, who’s been hacked?

Get ahead in the game that never ends

Ever been hacked?

Have you ever been hacked? You, personally, or your business? If your answer is, “no” it would be interesting to know how you can be so sure.

I once spoke to a marketing manager at a global anti-malware company who claimed that his PC had never been infected by malware, despite him not using anti-virus. How would be know? Not all malware announces its presence as clearly as, say ransomware. “I just would,” he claimed.

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Why does it matter?

Years later I asked a management team at a very large media company if they had ever been breached. The head of IT claimed not. Definitely not. His lower-ranking colleague more realistically said, “probably” while the CFO responded with, “does it matter?”

Companies and individuals sometimes think that they don’t have anything valuable of interest to attackers. But if your business holds any personal details of staff or customers then being breached can bring heavy fines. And if your personal PC is hacked, you can expect at best inconvenience as your computer misbehaves and shows you annoying adverts, and at worst what amounts to a bank robbery that will have your bank looking at you with considerable suspicion.

Ever been hacked?

I have personally been hacked (at least) twice. I’m certain of this because in the first case I could see abnormal amounts of network traffic leaving my system and, because I am familiar with how computers work under the hood, I was then able to spot the rootkit that was hiding on my Linux server. Yes, there is malware for Linux, despite what you might have heard.

The second time was less direct, and I only found out that my British Airways account had been breached when I tried to use it. My personal email is found a number of times on the have i been pwned website, too. So clearly other companies with my personal data have been hacked too.

Game of Threats

I’ve nearly fallen foul of SMS phishing at least once this year, and only failed to enter my credit card details because I didn’t have my wallet with me at the time. I’m looking out for this stuff and I still get tricked if you catch me on an off day. The general public will be falling for these tricks all the time. The proof is that attackers are running the same scams over and over again. Keeping your wits about you is essential, but you can’t do it all on your own. That’s why a good (anti-malware) endpoint protection solution is an essential basis for your online protection. I hope this report helps you or your business get ahead in the game that never ends.

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