Detecting espionage on computers | Identifying hacking into networks
When investigating for corporate espionage on computer systems, a hack or data breach, we at Force Majeure also use advanced scanners to discover viruses and trojan horses, but since automatic scanners cannot cover all of the possibilities for data breach, for hacking and spying, we place our emphasis on examining vulnerabilities, back doors, a hidden application and any component which might be indicative of the system vulnerability and the potential for data theft – all this from a forensics standpoint. We will therefore, fore the most part, advise against removing the spyware until maximum digital evidence have been collected.
Hacks into information systems and networks can be divided into 3 main categories:
Spyware – viruses and malware
The first category is various, common spyware, distributed by malicious entities onto thousands of computers and systems for various reasons. For example: mass collection of information from large numbers of users in order to send them targeted advertising, using the computer as a “zombie”, making it take part in various cyber attacks unbeknownst to the legitimate user, password and/or identity theft, and so forth.
These programs are sometimes called viruses, trojan horses, or malware.
The second category of spyware is installed on an end device, which has been designated as the target since it belongs to a person or business entity which has been specifically targeted. IT is intended to collect personal information or to steal a business organization’s database for the purpose of finding out its secrets for business or personal needs, in order to uncover trade secrets, to collect information as ransomware, to steal intellectual property, to steal tenders, patents, source code, engineering plans etc.
Hacking into computers, user accounts, and servers without spyware
In addition to spyware, it sometimes becomes possible to hack into a computer or organizational network without installing spyware at all. Such a break-in is done by using a legitimate-looking application. One example is – a remote access application or backup software which, in themselves are not malware per se. Rather, it is the way they are exploited is what turns them into malware. Therefore, a data breach investigation must be thorough, experts with experience in such investigations must manually drill down to get to the bottom of such investigations.
Force Majeure operates legally and does not provide cyber attack or malicious hacking services
How to cope with a hack and with spyware
In most cases, the first kind of spyware – the non-targeted kind – can be handled simply by scanning the computer using various anti spyware programs and by installing basic protection products, which will protect the user against these. The most important measure that can be taken is to avoid installing unrecognized software, to avoid connecting unsecure removable devices to the computer, to avoid clicking suspicious links etc.
On the other hand, the second kind of spyware will usually evade detection by protective and scanning programs. To detect these, a thorough, manual scan by a skilled computer investigator is required – a person that will be able to identify activity which would go undetected by an untrained eye. Such activity indicates that backdoors or applications have been installed on the computer network, which are exposed to the information stored on it. It is important to point out that the scan is carried out without the attackers knowing about it, thereby preventing them from remotely deleting the software and destroying the evidence.
Some spyware programs enable actual control of the computer and the network. They enable collecting the passwords of users of certain services, mining the company’s databases, activation of network cameras and viewing what is happening in a room or office, and tracking any character typed on a computer.
There are various ways of hacking into a computer. It can be done by installing software or through a miniature physical device which is installed in the computer and which enables full real-time access to the data on it and to all of the activity taking place on it.
Do you suspect your computer has been hacked for commercial, political or personal reasons? this is where we come into the picture.