How Hackers Get Information
Your Social Security number isn’t safe, no matter what you’ve been told. Besides the fact that you’re constantly asked to give it away, hackers have their own methods for getting ahold of it — even when you think you’re on the safest website known to man.
The easiest method, social engineering, works by tricking people into giving up their information willingly. A thief will call, pretending to be a debt collector or similar entity, asking someone to verify her information before the call can proceed. A lot of times, the thief will threaten a lawsuit if he doesn’t receive money from the innocent person on the other end of the line — prompting the person to both give up her personal information and give him money over the phone.
Once he has that personal information, he can use it to get whatever he wants.
Another method comes from rudimentary vectors. A vector refers to the way a thief accesses someone’s information — rudimentary vectors are the simplest. Emails with links to fake websites ask users to enter their sensitive information. These emails will sometimes appear to be from a trusted institution, like a bank or an employer.
But just because hackers usually don’t need to resort to advanced techniques doesn’t mean they can’t. By spending just $300, some hackers recently built a machine that can steal confidential information simply by being near a computer.
The Social Security number is dead, but until new methods become reality, a consumer’s best strategy is to stay vigilant.