Submitted by James Azar on Tue, 03/13/2018 - 09:50
The Top Four Ways Hackers choose their next Victim.
The Top Four Ways Hackers choose their next Victim.

If you didn’t already know, the reality is you may never be able to completely defend yourself from a fully-fledged cybercriminal. Where there is a will, there is a way and an advanced hacker committed to creeping into your system will dedicate their time and energy to finding and eventually exploiting it.

Your best bet is to have a greater awareness of the typical and obvious vulnerabilities present in your system, because whilst many victims ask "Why me?", we ask "Why does it matter?" 

You may have been chosen randomly or you may be a target because of the nature of your business, the truth is, you'll never know. What you can know, is how a typical hacker operates and make yourself into a hard to reach and complicated prospect.

To begin our series of looking at the Hacker from the 'Inside out" here are four approaches that hackers use to lock on to their next target:

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 Phishing Scams

Email phishing still remains one of the most popular and effective hacking strategies and approximately 400 out of every 100,000 scam emails sent are successful.

The process is simple, Phishing scammers send out authentic looking mass emails under the guise of being a financial or legal service, bank or payment processor. This email instructs recipients to either verify their account information or something similar by clicking on a link, once they supply the login details, it's plain sailing and the hackers have access. The link could also contain a RAT (remote access Trojan) which is downloaded alongside whatever else is being downloaded, giving the hacker permeant remote access to your system.

An alternative technique, which I'm renaming the "Hacker-Chutzpa" method, is when a hacker contacts targets and pretends that the prospects are already victims of a scam. He/she requests their private data to investigate further, to help,  by obviously asking for these same details.

 Prevention or reduction of these type of cyber penetrations are through ongoing training and education for all your team members. Staff must remain vigilant against suspicious e-mails attachments, pop-ups and alleged Institutional figures who are actually posturing scammers. 

Default passwords

As the installation process is taking place on your remote access products, routers etc. many users forget to alter the originally configured default password. This allows hackers to use tools like PCAnywhere or Windows Remote Desktop, or VNC, or FTP or a host of other tools to pick up default username and passwords. 

If the default password was left on the system, the attacker has now successfully gained access to the system. 

Change all default passwords when you acquire new equipment and software and instruct your employees to update network passwords frequently and when we say frequently we mean, every single month.

You can also subscribe to a cloud-based data protection system for your password protection.


If for some reason, your type of business is already a Cyber target, let's say that your industry deals with sensitive information or is a very lucrative opportunity for a hacker, Cyber criminals have probably investigated you.

Like any good researcher, Hackers go through a variety of search engines to begin mapping your vulnerabilities.  Using standard search queries through Google and job sites, the hacker creates a map such as hardware and software platform usage, including specific versions and its use within the enterprise, how much you spend on cyber security, other breaches you may have been hit by, and which security systems you currently use.

Just be aware, that this information is hardly private.

Vulnerability Scanners

As most businesses have exposed public-facing services, Hackers utilize a bot for their next attack, this makes seeking out a potential target a matter of simply starting a scan and checking back when the scan is complete.

The scan runs on automation, so by the morning, said-Hacker will have a list of IP addresses with port numbers. Port Numbers relate to remote access applications.

These scanners seek out two types of vulnerabilities: network-centric vulnerabilities that attack hosts listening for SSH, FTP, HTTP, Telnet and RDP (to name a few) and Application or database vulnerabilities such as SQL injection, cross-site scripting attacks or local or remote files.

In a nutshell, Hackers are lazy. These Port Scanners allow a hacker to quickly identify, which remote access credentials are freely available and if two-factor authentication is required, whilst you can't really hide your information, you can make sure that you aren't on the easy to reach list.