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Kelly Sheridan
Kelly Sheridan
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How End-User Devices Get Hacked: 8 Easy Ways

Security experts share the simplest and most effective methods bad guys employ to break into end-user devices.
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(Image: F8 studio via Shutterstock)

(Image: F8 studio via Shutterstock)

When it comes to scamming consumers and businesses, the most effective strategies aren't necessarily the most complex.

Hackers seeking funds, data, and access to corporate systems don't need advanced techniques when tried-and-true tactics consistently work on their victims. There are two primary types of attacker motivations: opportunistic and targeted.

"The attacker does not care who the victim is," says Rob Ragan, managing security associate at Bishop Fox, who uses the two categories to differentiate cybercrimes. "They want access to any and every device that can be compromised. This is a numbers game."

Targeted attacks are different because the threat actor has a specific reason for wanting access to a particular device. While opportunistic attacks are often financially motivated, targeted threats aim to scam a particular person or access specific data.

Ragan says attacks are often platform-based and payload matters less than delivery method. "The payload may be ransomware, but the delivery mechanism can be anything from coercing a user to running an email attachment, to a worm that exploits unpatched systems," he explains.

"Hacking a device takes technical acumen, and in some cases, access to the device," says Michele Fincher, chief operating officer at Social-Engineer. Much of the time, the easiest route to device takeover is tricking the user.

Because it can be a "full-time job" to stay current on the latest threats, most users are not aware of the many ways their devices are at risk. Here's a look at the easiest and most effective ways for cybercriminals to attack end-user devices.


Kelly Sheridan is the Staff Editor at Dark Reading, where she focuses on cybersecurity news and analysis. She is a business technology journalist who previously reported for InformationWeek, where she covered Microsoft, and Insurance & Technology, where she covered financial ... View Full Bio

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Christian Bryant
Christian Bryant,
User Rank: Ninja
6/12/2017 | 2:28:52 PM
Hijacking Wireless Across Geographic Divides
As wireless mobile devices come closer to acting as an infrastructure for extended Internet ecosystems, the idea that "wireless hijacking can't be done across broad geographical regions" may quickly be proven untrue.  The work we do now to solidify security standards against local wireless hacking should include anticipation for global threats, too.  As it is, remote access of phones and mobile devices through other means besides wireless hijacking is already a reality, so all the more treating one device as a weak link in all relative wireless networks to it should be a given.     
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