Hacking is defined as using a computer to gain unauthorized access to data or information in a system. Often times the information is used for the financial gain of the hacker. Hackers have come to be a major drain on the global economy. It is estimated that for all of 2016 they will cost the global economy $445 billion. Data hackers have stolen information from many Fortune 500 companies, with one member of a major cyber security firm stating the all 500 Fortune 500 companies have been hacked. Small business are not safe from hackers either. Home Depot and Target are both international corporations that have had their information compromised after small third party company contractors were hacked, allowing the hackers access to the bigger companies' databases.

Even major international organizations like NATO have been subject to data breaches. Operation Pawn Storm saw Russian based hackers use malware and phishing emails to spy on government officials in NATO countries. Email phishing is the technique of sending an email to convince the recipient to submit confidential information in some way or open a link that installs malware on the recipient’s computer. It is believed that in Operation Pawn Storm one of the tactics used was a fake Microsoft Outlook login screen that stole the usernames and passwords submitted to it. Many countries are now taking steps to protect against cyberattacks. In early 2015 the United States and the United Kingdom announced their joint plans to hold a “cybergames war test.”

There are several steps you can take to make sure that your information is not compromised. HTTPS Everywhere is a program that can help to protect your information on the internet. HTTPS Everywhere encrypts the communications between the web server and your computer, making it harder for someone to access what you do online. You should also checking the permissions on an application before installing it. Sometimes apps try and access unnecessary information like your contact list when there is no reason for it to. And to avoid an email phishing scam, you can do several things. The best step is to always be wary of suspicious looking emails and pop-up windows. Pop-up windows with malicious intent and phishing emails will try and trick you into giving them personal information.

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