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When hackers search

It occurred to the virtual private network firm NordVPN that some people would use their time during lockdown to do an internet search, ‘how to hack’. What were they after?

Above all, how to break into somebody else’s Facebook account. Next came how to access someone’s wi-fi. Daniel Markuson at the VPN firm says that people may think they are of no interest to hackers. But they are, and research proves it. He says: “Once obtained by a cybercriminal, Facebook accounts can open the gates to Instagram, online stores that hold credit card data, and even more.”

The VPN company’s researchers from mid-July to mid-August used Google’s search term analysis tools to search terms that include the keyword “hack”. Apart from global trends, search volumes were also checked by country.

When analysing the volumes of “hack”-related keywords, the researchers found that Wi-Fi comes second on the most desired hacking list. Wi-Fi has always been a target, to use someone else’s to save paying for your own; but the interest increased once people got locked down and had to work or study from home. The top three countries where people are looking to take advantage of their neighbour’s network include India (23pc), Indonesia (13pc), and the United States (8pc).

As for the other things the British want to hack most, they include Gmail (15pc), email (5pc), and Google account (1pc).

Daniel Markuson adds: “People may think they are of no interest to hackers. But they are, and research proves it. Your neighbour may be a hacker trying to break into your Wi-Fi network. Your ex-partner may try to get control of your social media accounts. And, of course, a random black-hat hacker will grab any chance to sell your account on the dark web.”

What to do?

The VPN firm advises that IT users carry out ‘cyber hygiene’. Such as, unique and complex passwords for each account. Once hacked, your credentials can be checked against other services, such as email or online banking, the firm points out. And avoid poorly protected public Wi-Fi. If you have to log in to your online account on a network you can’t fully trust, use a VPN.

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