Anyone online is at risk of being hacked. While hackers sometimes have specific targets, others hack accounts randomly just for the thrill of breaching access. There are certain groups which are more likely to be the victim of a hacker, however.
Young people at higher risk of being hacked
Studies indicate that about one-third of young adults using social networking sites have had at least one social account hacked. There are a few likely causes for this trend. First, young people are more likely to have presences on multiple social networks – the added opportunity alone leads to a higher prevalence of being hacked.
Additionally, many hackers are young. They may be in high school or college and the thrill of testing out their hacking capabilities is just too much to resist. Some hackers break into other users’ accounts for the purpose of spying on them – and the natural inclination is to do so to someone they know, likely in their own peer group.
Consider these statistics: In 2011, 67 percent more Americans had their personal data exposed by hackers than in 2010. And nearly a quarter of all complaints about identity theft came from individuals between the ages of 20 and 29. In 2011, 1 in every 25 Americans had their identities stolen – and using any online Website or service increases the odds of exposing your personal data.
Older adults more vulnerable to hackers
Older adults are also more likely to become the victim of hackers. The same survey showed that in 2010, 13 percent of all complaints of fraud came from adults age 60 and older. Why? It’s a stereotype, but older adults are perceived by some as not as tech-savvy as the younger generations. This is increasingly untrue, of course, but that doesn’t stop hackers from viewing older people as an easy target.
Users of online gaming systems likely targets
You’ve probably heard of the infamous PlayStation hack. This event was a targeted attack on Sony’s PlayStation Network resulting in the theft of personal information from 77 million accounts. In this instance, users were unable to access their online gaming accounts after the breach.
Instances such as this make online gamers a likely target for hacks. Any time a hacker can obtain vast amounts of information in one place, users or members of those entities are at risk of being hacked. This type of hack is usually done for straight-up malicious purposes, such as identity theft.
Online credit card users
If you use your credit card to make purchases online, or if you manage your credit card account via the Internet, you could be at an increased risk of being hacked. Hackers out for monetary gain will frequently target credit-card holders in an effort to obtain the account information and use it to make purchases.
Many people have had the experience of having a credit card stolen at one time or another. When you open up your monthly statement and find out that your card was used to purchase $12,500 worth of custom luggage in Bangladesh, it usually raises a red flag.
Hackers don’t often discriminate. Unless they have a specific target in mind or are out to exact revenge on a specific individual or group, they’ll target anyone whose information they can get their hands on. Certain user groups are more likely to become victim to hacks, but any individual who conducts any kind of activity online is a potential target. Stay smart, use best practices, use strong passwords and change them frequently to help prevent against these unfortunate attacks.
Fergal Glynn is the Director of Product Marketing at Veracode, an award-winning application security company specializing in spoofing attack guide from Veracode and other security breaches with effective risk assessment tools