Just like anyone can break into a home, anyone can be a hacker. Hacking into personal, public, or business networks is just a digital form of breaking-and-entering, and, although the required knowledge to be an effective hacker is not as common as the ability to pick a lock, the skillset is not difficult to attain.

It is important to note, though, that not all hackers exist with malicious intentions. In fact, some are quite neutral in their actions, and some even do it for a living.  Regardless, in the last few years, as more aspects of daily life become digitized, it becomes increasingly difficult to protect our assets from being compromised as more of our communication and personal information is migrated to the cloud.

Because of the ever-increasing number of risks that come along with running a business using the cloud, or protecting your home with cybersecurity, it is important to be aware of just how common the threat of hacking truly is.

The Prevalence of Hacking and What is Most Vulnerable

One of the most alarming aspects of the prevalence of hackers is that they do not have to be too experienced to find their way into your personal network. An artist by the name of Kyle McDonald, along with his friend, threw together an installation called the “WiFi Whisperer” which displayed the data of unwitting passers-by on monitors and speakers. At the time, McDonald was not an expert hacker, he simply used technology that was available to him and had some background knowledge on how to use it exactly for his purposes. He was able to gather their information using:

  • Users leaving their WiFi and Bluetooth devices accessible
  • Connections to unprotected WiFi networks
  •  User information being downloaded and uploaded to mobile apps

The installation was intended to function as a point of awareness for mobile data users to know just how vulnerable their devices are to having information stolen.

Certainly, it proved the point that anyone with access to the right technological tools and a little bit of relevant knowledge can steal sensitive information. These tools are also quite easy to access, being available on popular shopping platforms like eBay.

Hacking isn’t exclusive to mobile or desktop devices, either. Researchers Charlie Miller and Chris Valasek demonstrated their versatile hacking abilities by wirelessly carjacking a Jeep Cherokee. By connecting to the vehicle’s entertainment system through the WiFi network, they gained control of car functions and components including:

  • Dashboard functions
  • Steering 
  • Brakes
  • Transmission

These researchers’ demonstration, along with McDonald’s display, shows the extent to which hackers can remotely control devices people use in their everyday life. None of them needed sophisticated equipment or massive time commitments to do these things, making it clear how easy and quick hacking activities can be. 

Such knowledge should not serve to make you paranoid, rather prepare you to properly secure your mobile devices and any other personal items that may be connected to a WiFi network to protect your business and personal information. When choosing your cybersecurity measures, it is best to do as thorough research as possible to ensure the greatest level of protection to avoid the loss of any personal or business-related data.

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