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Categories: Digital Security

More and More Namibians are being hacked

Ever seen an unusual post being shared on a friends wall, or have you received an odd email from a friend with an attachment. The chances are they have been hacked! More and more Namibians are being hacked, but who is to blame?

Cyber Attack Crime
Cyber Attack Crime

So why is this happening to so many Namibian online users? Well there are quite a few reasons for this, but below are the most common reasons Namibian online users are failing prey to hackers and hacking attempts.

You posted or shared your Email or Cell phone number online

This is most probably one of the most common occurrences seen on Namibian-based Facebook Groups. Ever come across a post that reads: “Share your email address for more information.” Do yourself a favour and start counting how many Namibian online users share their email address (or even cell phone number) in the comments section. In most cases the main reason the user shares their email address is to become part of some mailing list or gain more information about a get rich quick scheme.

This might all seem rather innocent, but what you are forgetting is the mere fact that most of the time the email address being shared by users is the same email address they used to create their Facebook account in the first place… Now things start getting interesting.

If you shared your email address on a Facebook Group, it means that you shared your email address publically for the world to see. All that a hacker now needs to do is crack your password…and that in itself is not difficult.

In fact several articles have been written in the past explaining just how easy it is to obtain some ones password, in fact in 2014 Time Magazine released an article titled Why your Passwords are easy to hack, which we recommend you read to find out how passwords are cracked.

Once a hacker is able to crack your password, they already have your email address, thus they can easily gain access to your Facebook account. In addition to this, they now have your email address which means they can use the same password cracking methods to gain access to your email address which tends to hold a lot of sensitive information.

You continually use the same password for all your online accounts

A lot of online users are guilty of using the same password for multiple accounts; generally this is done because users find it difficult to remember multiple passwords. By doing this you may find it easier to remember your password and login to all of your accounts; however you just made it a lot easier for hackers to hack into all of your accounts.

Once hackers gain access to one of your accounts, the first thing they would do is try to use the same password on all of your other accounts and as soon as they figure out that it works on two accounts they will target all of your online accounts.

Another problem is that many users create accounts on a variety of platforms, which they tend to stop using and simply forget about. Thus, the minute a hacker gains access to one of these dormant accounts and obtains your password they will use the same password to try and breach your other accounts.

In fact, Google reported that in 2015 approximately 800,000 websites were breached, which means your single password used on all your accounts may have been leaked when one of the 800,000 websites were breached. 

That second-hand Android Phone you purchased from Buy or Sell or that old computer you are using is vulnerable

Yes, buying a second hand computer of phone on the popular Namibian Group “Buy or Sell Namibia” may do you more harm than anything else. The biggest problem with Android device is the short lifespan of its operating system (OS). When a new Android device is purchased it receives regular security upgrades; however the older the model becomes the less security upgrades it receives until eventually all support for the specific Android model is seized - which means that the specific model no longer receives vulnerability patches.

The same principal goes for old computers, if the computer you are purchasing is running an outdated operating system it means that the computer extremely vulnerable. For instance, if you purchased a computer stilling running on Microsoft Windows XP the computer and your information is most definitely vulnerable. In April 2014, Microsoft ceased all support for Windows XP which means that the operating system is no longer receiving any security upgrades. In a recent article written by us, we found that Windows XP has at least 700 security vulnerabilities some minor but some so major that it could allow hackers to gain access to your entire computer.

The biggest problem with unsupported operating systems is the mere fact that the computer becomes a hub for hackers to spread more viruses or to track everything you do online. Thus, we would like to urge all users still running on Windows XP or any other outdated operating system to upgrade to a newer version. Rather spend a couple of dollars today, than lose thousands tomorrow.

You don’t update your software

Yes, there are hundreds of online users who refuse to update their operating systems, browsers, printers, routers, etc. and when they are hacked they do not understand why… In an article we published in December 2015 it was found that online users find it extremely annoying to do software updates as they feel that its rather pointless and simply wastes time, but approximately 80% of software upgrades are security upgrades!

So, even if you have an anti-virus software and you refuse to update your computers, software, printers, routers, browsers, etc. there is a large possibility that you’ve already been hacked or that your information has already been leaked online.

You gave Hackers access to your Facebook account without knowing it

This may seem stupid, but this happens a lot more than it should. So much so that we would like to say that it is one of the most popular hacks currently online – and it works well because in the end curiosity killed the cat.

Hackers will use video’s to grab users attention, these videos would range in content from healthy living to porn to celebrities deaths anything that they think will grab users attention. Generally when a user clicks on it they will be redirected to an external website or Facebook app which then requests that the user share specific information with the app or login with your Facebook account. At this point, online users do not concentrate on the app or website requesting the information.

See Facebook has this useful API which allows developers to request information from your Facebook account, this information can be shared with the developer as long as they give a good reason why they want the information and as long as the user agrees to share the information with them. Generally these APIs are used for good, but every now and then a hacker uses it to gain personal information about users.

Here are a couple of things Facebook can share with developers regardless of your privacy settings – all they need is you to accept. Developers can gain basic information like your email address, name, sex they can obtain your personal messages, news feeds, photos, places you visited. Basically all information you give to Facebook can be shared with developers (or hackers).

So how are you scammed or hacked? It’s simple; you click on the video a pop-up appears requesting that you share your email and some other information, you click okay or agree and continue to watch the video. In most cases the video doesn’t load, so you close it and continue with your day. What you don’t know is that by clicking okay or agrees you just shared your email address with a hacker.

They now have access to your email address which is also your Facebook username, and presto all they now need to do is crack your password. In addition to this, you most probably also allowed them to share on your wall which means they now shared the same video on your wall, spreading the malware.

You were careless on a public computer

Many banks in Namibia now have computers in the bank which allows their customers to go online and do their banking via the banks internet banking site. This is great, especially for those individuals without internet – so why is this dangerous.

Have you ever opened up your internet banking, Facebook, or email client and accessed your account. If this is done via a browser, the browser may request that you “save” your password. Now while this is a handy tool on a personal computer, it is extremely dangerous on a public computer.

A while ago we were waiting at a local bank in Namibia and while waiting we decided to check out their public computer which allows customers to use their internet banking website. For interest sake we decided to have a look at the browsers saves usernames and passwords, and found that many customers clicked the “Save password” link on the public computer.

By doing this, they saved their username and password to their internet banking. Now while the computer is located in a bank it would be rather difficult to hack, but just imagine someone had to quickly note down your username and password. Just imagine what could happen if someone could logon to your internet banking account and if this happened, who would you blame? The bank, the thief, or yourself?

It is really extremely important that you never save your details on a public computer or device, if the pop-up appears requesting that you save information simply click cancel or ignore it entirely.

Conclusion

If you have fallen victim to a hack its unfortunately most of the time something you did wrong or reckless behaviour from your part – this does not mean that we condone hacking in any form – it’s just important to remember that you are in control of your own online security.

Would you allow a 16 year old child to drive a car without any lessons? Now why would you allow your children or yourself to use a tool which is so dangerous without any lessons or training? The internet is a complex system and at times it can be amazing, but if not used correctly it can cause more problems that it has solutions.

Thus, the only advice we can give you is to know and understand what you are doing online and to take your online security serious. Here are 20 Commandments – YOU should memorize to protect yourself online, do yourself a favour and read this.

Feel free to ask us some questions in the comment section below.

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