In Screens We Trust

March 10, PRAGUE—When it comes to the Homeland Security Office for the United State’s Cyber Security site, their motto is “Stop.Think.Connect”. The campaign has stated that cyber security is not a personal issue, but one of the masses. They believe that we all are responsible for the minor steps in our data life, then we can thwart the work of online hackers. They have produced a number of sources, campaigns, and blogs to bring awareness to how we interact online on their site.  

Your cell phone, computer, television, and if you are rich enough to own a Tesla then you are aware that screens have become our dependency. Tesla, for those of you who don’t know, are cars driven by software designed by Elon Musk and his company.  We rely on them to know the time, the address, and directions to where we are going. But for every screen in your life, criminals have come up with a plan of attack.

How They Get You

There’s ‘phishing’ – a technique used to acquire information like passwords, or credit card numbers. Think of it like “fishing” for fish, but instead of catching a bluefin Tuna, you get yourself an identity. To protect yourself from phishing, make sure you are on a verified site; phishing attacks tend to be on a link or attachment in a message, or in an HTML link. Sometimes they even come as fake e-cards, or emails from our banks, job offers, or coupons. Be smart when looking at your emails, don’t open every email that you see.

‘Keylogger’ is another form of attack which involves memorizing the keys, generally covertly by every key you type. Initially used for IT technology, hackers may use them to find your passwords or other information. This is why banks generally ask for you to use their online keyboard. The hackers usually distributed as a Trojan horse or a virus.  

‘Waterhole attacks’ are when hackers guess or monitor which sites you use in order to find a weak spot. Think about predators who watch their prey and monitor their actions before attacking. They generally use malware or false advertisements. Usually, they are big organizations, even government sites, and large corporations. The hackers look for loopholes in the HTML or Javascript. Waterhole attacks which are uncommon but still oppose a threat. 

Navigation Hacks

The Global Positioning System (GPS), involves 24 navigational satellites where they can give you the exact location and information of anything on the planet. We use GPS to find our closest café, directions to the nearest library, and how to get from one location to another the quickest. But as a press release from the Royal Academy of Engineering stated, “Society may already be dangerously over-reliant on satellite radio navigations systems like GPS… Failure or interference could potentially affect safety systems and critical parts of the economy”.

In the United States, GPS jammers are widely available online on sites such as One notable manipulation of GPS was in 2014 when students at Technion-Israel Institute of Technology hacked the Waze app (Waze was purchased by Google and is used for navigation).  The students manipulated the screens and invented new drivers that just simply didn’t exist. There was no harm in this activity, but it revealed the price of our attention to screens. Some simple advice would be to stare at your phone less, look at street names, and remember where you are, or where you’re going. 

Bigger data machines, such as social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Google work tirelessly to prevent attacks in their systems, especially because the data has become more valuable to you than what the government has.

Global Attacks

Hackers tend to focus more on your social media since your identity is published yourself.  Edward Snowden, a notable hacker,  revealed how Microsoft, Google, Skype, Facebook, AOL, and Apple have been accessed by the National Security Agency (NSA), and how they retrieved connections of social media users. For example, when you publish your information on iCloud, Facebook, etc., you are storing your personal details (names of relatives, locations, businesses) that people in the cyber world are hungry for.

One serious attack was from the leaders of the anti-Assad movement when the former Ukrainian president, Viktor Yanukovich, proved the power of technology by sending text messages to protesters on their mobile phones, saying that they had been located and would receive arrest.  

 “There are only two types of companies — those that have been hacked and those that will be.”
Robert Mueller, Former FBI director

Written by Brittney Pilarcik.