How easy is it to hack your information? - WRBL

How easy is it to hack your information?

Posted: Updated:
You may be surprised by how easily hackers can access your information You may be surprised by how easily hackers can access your information

Have you ever been hacked? Would you even know if you were?

The massive Target breach put computer security center stage and has people concerned about the vulnerability of personal information. Hackers can find most any information they really want.

"I think everything is pretty vulnerable. A determined enough adversary with enough resources, skills and time, I think, can get into any system," said computer security expert and USF Professor Jeramy Rasmussen.

Rasmussen runs a "white hatters" computer club. White hatters are ethical hackers who work for the greater good. They try to find flaws in computer systems in order to improve security.

Black hatters break into computer systems for fun, or to commit crimes.

The hackers responsible for the Target breach put tens of millions of consumer credit and debit cards at risk. Two of Rasmussen's students at USF, Brad Trotter and Will Seed, were able to track down the actual malware used in the Target attack.

"The real difficult part of doing this kind of hack is actually getting the malware onto the system," according to Seed.

Target says an intruder stole a vendor's credentials and used them to gain access to Target's computer system. According to the investigative website KrebsOnSecurity, "the vendor in question was a refrigeration, heating and air conditioning subcontractor that has worked at a number of locations at Target and other top retailers."

Once the malware was installed, the hackers took advantage with every swipe. According to Seed, the malware scanned the memory, found the credit card number and then sent it off to another computer. That's how the hackers gathered all of the data. It happened millions of times until it was finally detected.

"It's not the most sophisticated malware i've ever seen. The communications that went out weren't even encrypted or they were encrypted but not necessarily hidden," says Rasmussen.

That means that massive breach wasn't that hard to pull off. It was hard to detect because there was so much traffic going out from Target to card processing sites that it was like finding a needle in a hay stack.

Rasmussen says the most important thing consumers can do to protect themselves is to download updates as soon as they are available.

"The attacker only has to find one way in but the defender has to defend every way in. This is not a problem that is going away anytime soon," Rasmussen said.

Rasmussen suggests that consumers have layers of protection:

*A firewall

*Anti-virus software

*A host-based intrusion detection program, so you will be alerted if you are hacked

Copyright 2014 WFLA. All rights reserved.



  • 8 On Your SideMore>>

  • Mold takes over St. Pete condo, creeps into neighbors' homes

    Mold takes over St. Pete condo, creeps into neighbors' homes

    Friday, August 29 2014 5:48 PM EDT2014-08-29 21:48:06 GMT
    Josephine Ramos is literally sick about the toxic black mold growing in the St. Petersburg condominium beside hers. She's been feeling ill for months with headaches and breathing problems. Recently, she had peak inside the condo next doors and couldn't believe her eyes.
    Josephine Ramos is literally sick about the toxic black mold growing in the St. Petersburg condominium beside hers. She's been feeling ill for months with headaches and breathing problems. Recently, she had peak inside the condo next doors and couldn't believe her eyes.
  • Lakeland neighborhood has continuing water problems, asks 8OYS for help

    Lakeland neighborhood has continuing water problems, asks 8OYS for help

    Friday, August 29 2014 5:03 PM EDT2014-08-29 21:03:34 GMT
    Some Lakeland residents are tired of wondering whether they'll have water at home. Over the past month, they tell 8 On Your Side that they've lost water with no warning at least five times. And what's worse, the water stays off for up to eight hours at a time
    Some Lakeland residents are tired of wondering whether they'll have water at home. Over the past month, they tell 8 On Your Side that they've lost water with no warning at least five times. And what's worse, the water stays off for up to eight hours at a time
  • Abercrombie dropping logo to boost brand

    Abercrombie dropping logo to boost brand

    Friday, August 29 2014 7:15 AM EDT2014-08-29 11:15:46 GMT
    The Abercrombie & Fitch logo has lost the power it once wielded, so the struggling teen retailer plans to strip off the once-prized logo from its clothing. Shares tumbled Thursday after it reported weak sales as more teens shop elsewhere. 
    The Abercrombie & Fitch logo has lost the power it once wielded, so the struggling teen retailer plans to strip off the once-prized logo from its clothing. Shares tumbled Thursday after it reported weak sales as more teens shop elsewhere. 
  • NewsMore>>

  • Two men injured in Gandy Bridge boat crash

    Two men injured in Gandy Bridge boat crash

    Saturday, August 30 2014 11:36 PM EDT2014-08-31 03:36:15 GMT
    Two men were injured in a single boat crash at the Gandy Bridge in Pinellas County Saturday. A 21-foot white Hydra-Sport boat collided with the Gandy Bridge, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission spokesman Officer Baryl Martin said in a news release. ...
    Two men were injured in a single boat crash at the Gandy Bridge in Pinellas County Saturday. A 21-foot white Hydra-Sport boat collided with the Gandy Bridge, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission spokesman Officer Baryl Martin said in a news release. ...
  • Down power line stalls Gulf Blvd. traffic

    Down power line stalls Gulf Blvd. traffic

    Saturday, August 30 2014 8:49 PM EDT2014-08-31 00:49:01 GMT
    Severe weather in Redington Beach has forced the shutdown of a portion of Gulf Blvd.Pinellas County authorities closed northbound and southbound Gulf Blvd. from 161st Ave. to 164th Ave. due to down power lines.Sheriffs's officials are asking motorists to avoid the area.
    Severe weather in Redington Beach has forced the shutdown of a portion of Gulf Blvd.Pinellas County authorities closed northbound and southbound Gulf Blvd. from 161st Ave. to 164th Ave. due to down power lines.Sheriffs's officials are asking motorists to avoid the area.
  • Buccaneers get to 53-man roster limit

    Buccaneers get to 53-man roster limit

    Saturday, August 30 2014 8:08 PM EDT2014-08-31 00:08:37 GMT
    The Tampa Bay Buccaneers' 53-man roster now is in place. On Saturday, the team waived six players and released two others to reach the NFL player limit. The Bucs made the following roster moves today, according to team officials. ...
    The Tampa Bay Buccaneers' 53-man roster now is in place. On Saturday, the team waived six players and released two others to reach the NFL player limit. The Bucs made the following roster moves today, according to team officials. ...
  • Sign up for WFLA News Channel 8 Email Alerts

    * denotes required fields






    Thank you for signing up! You will receive a confirmation email shortly.
Powered by WorldNow

1350 13th Avenue
Columbus, GA 31901

Telephone: 706.323.3333
Fax: 706.327.6655
Email: news@wrbl.com

Can't find something?
Powered by WorldNow
All content © Copyright 2000 - 2014 Media General Communications Holdings, LLC. A Media General Company.