Yahoo Life is committed to finding you the best products at the best prices. Some of the products written about here are offered in affiliation with Yahoo. We may receive a share from purchases made via links on this page. Pricing and availability are subject to change.
Cybercrime is up, and consumers have been told to keep their guard up against cybercriminals. The term “hacking” is often used, but what is it, why do people do it, and what risks are involved? We’ll get into the details of what hacking is — and how to avoid becoming the victim of a cybercrime.
What is hacking?
“Criminal hacking happens when a person or group unlawfully accesses (usually remotely) your computer, phone or other connected device or any of your online accounts with the intention of stealing data or causing nefarious disruption,” Camille Stewart, global head of product security strategy at Google tells Yahoo Life.
Depending on the cybercriminal’s goals, Stewart explains that “this data could be your financial information (where they can access your bank or credit accounts and withdraw money), details about your identity (so they can steal your identity and open new financial accounts under your name), or incriminating evidence that they can hold against you.”
Hackers: What they are and why you should care
A hacker is someone who attempts to gain access to a computer for malicious purposes. Typically, hackers break into systems either to get access to the information stored there, to steal money by using viruses or other malware to make unauthorized charges against accounts, or to simply cause denial-of-service attacks, which aim to shut down a device or network.
Hackers target both individuals and organizations for financial gain. Many hackers also engage in illegal activities such as identity theft, credit card fraud, and spamming. Some try to find ways to trick users into giving up personal information. Still others do it for “fun” rather than profit, enjoying seeing how far they can go before getting caught.