Unique Ways Hackers Have Attempted to Steal Data

Hackers are always trying to find new ways to access your device and steal personal information, and the most creative ones are doing it right under your nose.

Most go about finding vulnerabilities in a traditional way, such as finding simple vulnerabilities in your operating system or applications. But cyber criminals have, and will continue to, develop new ways to trick users into divulging valuable information.

Closed Captions

The newest form of sneaky malware is hidden in the subtitles of online videos. Users who download illegally distributed videos from torrenting and file sharing sites will download a seemingly innocent file.

Users will view the movie, and it will appear as though nothing is wrong and the file was safe. But now a lingering threat is sleeping on the computer embedded into the CC portion of the file. Hackers can then use that file to bypass security mechanisms with ease.

Hackers can then literally take control of your entire computer and have access to any and every file present. According to Check Point Security, this has already happened to millions of users on sites including VLC, Kodi (XBMC), Popcorn-Time and strem.io.


Adware is one of the most prevalent threats on the web today. Malicious ads rose 132 percent from 2015 to 2016, according to RiskIQ’s 2016 Malvertising Report. Some of the largest growth was seen in redirects to phishing pages and scammy or disingenuous ads, which rose at a rate of 1,979 percent and 846 percent, respectively.

Users visiting both suspicious and innocent looking websites are vulnerable. Some direct you to new web pages that can infect your device. Others can bring you to an app store or request you add a strange account on social media. These ads can trick your device into doing a lot of strange things, not all of which are known.

Users can successfully combat malicious ads, for the most part, by using an ad blocker. Six hundred million have already been downloaded, but make sure to keep it up to date for maximum protection.

READ: A History of Hacking
Fake Pictures

Hackers have been switching out images on the web for years now, tricking users into visiting dangerous websites or downloading malicious files.

Users think they’re looking at a normal image, but a virus can be hiding in its metadata. It’s so easy, there’s literally a how-to guide online. Users simply add additional executable code to the file’s source. It will be hidden as an icon, but if users click it or open the file, it can instantly infect your system.

Modern antivirus software and cautious, preventive practices can typically avoid this situation. Be careful downloading images and consider file types. Formats such as .exe or .pdf should be clear indicators that a file isn’t safe.

Mobile Apps

One of the biggest scares recently was the Android-infecting malware hidden in “Judy” games. More than 35 million people were affected by the malware, which came from about 40 different apps.

Apps with misleading or suspicious names and no reviews stand out clearly. But these forms of viruses can be tricky to spot, especially when the game has millions of positive reviews and has been around for years.

This was one of the largest and most wide-spread malware incidents ever to hit Google Play, and the developers had no idea it was even there. It had slipped past a “bouncer,” or detector, in 2012 and has been infecting devices ever since.

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