How Hackers Use Streaming Sites To Steal Your Darkest Secrets
Anyone who's seen the Shut Up and Dance episode of Black Mirror will remember the dystopian vision of a young man blackmailed after his laptop camera is hacked as he watches porn. The horror! If you thought the American Pie webcam scene was grim, it's most assuredly nothing compared to the way this resolutely dark episode unfolds.
Obviously, this is a worst case scenario, with other things like the theft of data or banking credentials being a more common consequence - but sadly, this dystopian vision increasingly seems a reflection of modern day society, with hacking horror stories ten a penny. So in an increasingly digital world, with all the cyber-danger that entails, how worried should we be, and what can we do to protect ourselves?
Eager for answers, LADbible spoke to Matt from the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) about the dangers of streaming and downloading content from illegal sites, because it's never been more important to keep yourself safe online.
"Peer to peer downloading is the first thing," he says, of the most dangerous ways to view content. With sites such as Limewire, "you're effectively opening up a connection when you click on a link to someone else's computer and downloading whatever that link is ... That means you're opening up a port on your computer to bring that file down."
"In doing so, you're pretty much opening up a connection between your computer and another person's computer." This means a hacker can "access your hard drive through that port anyway, if they choose to do so."
While you might think you're simply watching a football game or TV show, if the file you have clicked on is malicious and downloads malware as well as your video content, hackers can potentially get "access to do whatever they want."
He notes porn as a biggie for this, but stresses that "Hackers really look for where the market is going in terms of what people are likely to download and then they try to get the largest amount of the market possible."
Hackers usually target high earners or big companies, but like any area of organised crime, smaller fish may target less wealthy yet vulnerable individuals.
"They might look for your contact lists," says Matt as an example. "They might look for something embarrassing they can blackmail you with. Let's say you're cheating on your girlfriend, they can work out who your girlfriend is from files on your computer, and they can threaten to contact her if you don't pay a ransom."
So, enough scaremongering, what can you do to avoid your data/information from being stolen? Well, having good antivirus and security settings is a start, as it will often pick up on malicious software.
The simplest thing to do, then, is to keep all of your current software and apps up to date. Sure, this can be a bit of a pain in the arse - especially if you're big in the dating app game - but these updates don't just include new emoji functions, but also important security updates. In short, they close a door to the hackers that had been opened as soon as you started streaming
Gilmore Girls, The Real Housewives of Atlanta, Game of Thrones.
I don't know about you but, when I stick my phone on charge tonight, I'll be updating all of my software and apps as well.
For details on how to keep cyber criminals at bay, then go give Cyber Aware a visit.