Hackers & Crackers

Last week I had the opportunity to attend a very cool presentation by Ankit Fadia – an expert on Internet Security.  Ankit is an amazing kid.  And I don’t mean to make light of his age.  It’s more of a complement.  At the ripe old age of 23 he’s written 14 books, the first being published at age 14.

You can learn more about Ankit at his web site www.hackingmobilephones.com.

Much of his advice was not new for me.  But his presentation was enlightening and entertaining.  For instance, hackers are the good guys who want to help you with security topics, the bad guys are crackers and are malicious and up to no good.  Ankit also demonstrated many common hacks, including the tools that hackers use to control your PC once it has been infected by a Trojan of some sort.

He was also quite insistent that people need to be much more diligent about guarding their private information.  Sites like Google, Yahoo, Hotmail, Gmail, etc. all collect amazing amounts of data (example, EVERY search term you have entered).  In fact, he suggested browsing using anonamizers such as www.cooltunnel.com and sending email using encryption via services such as www.hushmail.com.

My advice – be scared, be diligent, take these threats seriously.  The tools at a cracker’s disposal are amazing.

Finally, Ankit’s top 6 security suggestions:
1)  install a firewall
2)  use antivirus software, and install updates regularly
3)  install anit-spyware software (SpySweeper or PrevX)
4)  Patch your OS every 15 days (Windows update)
5)  Use strong passwords for everything
6)  Use a key scrambler so your key strokes can not be captured (example, when you enter in your Credit Card #)
7)  If you use a wireless network lock it down using WEP

I welcome your comments.
Mike Brannan