This past weekend, the internet shed a collective tear for tech writer Mat Honan as his entire digital identity was eviscerated by hackers for no particular reason (unless you consider the fact that they liked his short Twitter handle, @mat, as a legitimate reason). In the wake of this Epic Hack, nearly every tech blog has offered suggestions on how to secure your online identity; here is a rundown of some of the best advice:

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Columbia University researchers have recently found a security exploit that can not only leave your personal information open for hackers to steal, but can also end up blowing up your printer and setting your house on fire. No, we’re not kidding. The researchers have found that certain internet-connected HP LaserJet printers (but could potentially be any model of internet-connected printers) are vulnerable to a malware attack that would give total control of your printer to a hacker from anywhere in the world.

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SWAT TeamCall spoofing is a service that allows anyone to call a phone number and make the caller ID show any number that user desires. For example, using the service, you can call a friend and make it appear as if his own home phone is calling him. The real purpose of this service is likely mere entertainment, but in reality it has been causing a lot of chaos lately.

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Most hackers come up with devious and complex schemes to break into people’s computers and steal their personal information. They send out trojans designed to look like PDF files or games, or maybe they’ll just send a link to a website that installs malware just by opening the website. But in the case of a teenage girl from Niceville, FL, the hacker used a much simpler approach. This hacker gave a young girl directions over the phone of how she could help him hack into her computer.

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hackedcarWith cars becoming more computerized and Internet-enabled with programs such as OnStar, the risk of computer-based security breaches also grows. Computer security researchers from the University of Washington and the University of California, San Diego (UCSD) have proven that it’s possible to remotely control many of a car’s functions by hacking its computer from a remote location.

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tweet-botA coder / hacker that specializes in building Twitter-controlled bots figured he could make a few extra bucks by selling his hacking skills to wannabe hackers. He created a tool that builds botnets, which is basically an automated program that lets a hacker control someone else’s computer and  execute commands using Twitter. The most alarming part is how easy it makes it for anyone to create and launch a botnet, and even control a person’s computer without them ever knowing it’s happening.

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qq1sgterroristCyber terrorism is becoming a growing concern in India. Recently,  celebrity cyber security expert Ankit Fadia stated “The next big war that the country may have to wage against terror will be on the Internet. The network infrastructure of the country may be attacked any time. Social networking sites like Twitter, Facebook, Orkut and Myspace may also pose a threat,” Fadia told IANS in an e-mail interview.

Fadia, who was working with the Central Bureau of Investigation until a couple of years ago said that terrorists are now using “VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) chats, hidden messages inside photographs, draft e-mails and encrypted pen drives to communicate across the world. According to Fadia, cyber laws in India may be quite good, “but the problem is that the police who enforce those laws are not trained properly. If anyone lodges a cyber crime complaint at the nearest police station, I am sure that nine out of 10 times, officials attending to you won’t even know what you are saying.”

Law enforcement’s goal is to bring those who are guilty to justice. “According to NASSCOM-IDC surveys the demand for ethical hackers is estimated at 77,000 in India and 188,000 worldwide currently” said Fadia. Fadia fears that as we continue to rely upon the Internet in our daily lives we aslo leave ourselve’s open.

(Via New Kerala)

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virusIn recent years, hackers have increasingly targeted law firms and public relations companies in an attempt to steal their clients’ sensitive information. The hackers are using a sophisticated e-mail scheme that breaks into the company’s computer network and steals data often linked to overseas clients. As a result, the FBI has issued warnings towards the rising amount of computer hacks that have been occurring in law firms. Apparently it was a trend that started as early as two years ago but it has grown dramatically since then. The hackers are using a system known as “spear fishing,” which uses a personalized spam e-mails that can slip through common defenses.

“Law firms have a tremendous concentration of really critical, private information,” said Bradford Bleier, unit chief with the FBI’s cyber division. Infiltrating those computer systems, he said, “is a really optimal way to obtain economic, personal and personal security related information.”

Alan Paller, Director of Research at SANS Institute, a computer-security organization, stated that the hackers going after law firms often target companies that are negotiating a major international deal concerning anything from seeking a patent on a sensitive new technology to opening a plant in another country. While opening a “spear fishing” e-mail itself does not pose a danger, they often contain links or attachments that when opened will infiltrate the network or install malicious programs. The FBI warned that the attachments or links can appear to be anything from a photo to an executable program. The FBI also warns that while hackers used to work in solidarity, they are now working in transnational criminal organizations which pose a bigger threat to businesses.

(Via CW 14)

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