When people think about hacking, they usually picture someone breaking into a computer system to steal personal data or sensitive information. While this is certainly one of the things that hackers do, they can also put that stolen data to more nefarious use. Depending on the type of data they've managed to access, hackers might use it to exploit individuals or organizations financially, spread malicious software, or cause major disruptions.
Here are seven of the most common things that hackers do with the data they steal:
1. Sell it on the dark web
Hackers can make a quick profit by selling stolen data on the dark web, a hidden corner of the internet that’s accessible only through specialized web browsers. This data ranges from personal information like credit card numbers and passwords to corporate intellectual property, which buyers can use to their own advantage.
2. Commit identity fraud
Using stolen information, hackers can create fake identities and open up new bank accounts or obtain loans in their victims’ names. They can also exploit existing accounts, draining people’s funds and leaving them with no way to reclaim the money.
3. Launch phishing attacks
Phishing is a type of cyberattack in which hackers use emails or other messaging platforms to impersonate individuals or companies, tricking victims into providing sensitive information or downloading malicious software. To make their phishing attempts more convincing, hackers often use stolen data to craft personalized messages. For example, they might address their victims by name, mention a recent purchase the victim has made, or even quote an old password.
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4. Extort money or services
If hackers manage to steal something particularly valuable, they might use it to extort money or services from their victim. This could involve anything from demanding a ransom payment in exchange for not releasing the data to threatening to delete or manipulate information unless the victim agrees to certain conditions.
5. Spread malicious software
Hackers can also use stolen data, like usernames and passwords, to spread malware that can wreak havoc on a computer system or network. By infiltrating a target's system, hackers can install viruses, worms, and other malicious software that can give them access to more data or allow them to control the system remotely. Hackers typically use this type of attack to steal more data or launch larger attacks.
6. Manipulate markets
Hackers can use stolen data to manipulate industries and markets. For instance, they might collect insider information or manipulate the stock market by buying and selling shares at certain times. By doing this, they can make a profit or influence the market in favor of certain companies. This type of activity can be difficult to detect, as hackers can use false identities to carry out transactions.
7. Sow chaos
While many hackers have financial motives, some are driven by malicious intent. In these cases, hackers might use stolen data to spread misinformation or launch large-scale distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks that can cause significant disruption or even bring entire systems down. These types of attacks can be used to destabilize governments, organizations, or individuals whom hackers perceive to be their enemy.
No matter what their motives are, hackers can cause serious harm with stolen data. Being aware of how hackers use this data is the first step in staying safe online.
The best way to protect yourself and your organization against hackers is to invest in reliable cybersecurity measures, including robust network firewalls, anti-malware software, and encryption technologies. Additionally, it’s important to remain vigilant and stay up to date on the latest security threats and best practices. With proper security measures in place and increased awareness, you can reduce the risk of becoming a victim of hacking attacks.
outsourceIT can help you develop a comprehensive cybersecurity plan to protect your organization from cybercriminals. Contact one of our specialists to get started.