Hack vs. Spoof

I’ve got a quick tech definition for you on a subject that I’ve addressed in a couple of articles already this week.  It involves the term “hacked” and what it means.

When I use the term “hacked,” here’s what I mean: “Use a computer to gain unauthorized access to data in a system.”

That data could be your bank account, your email, your Facebook account, your cloud storage. That’s not the same thing as “spoofing.” Spoofing is when I impersonate a person or business or even a phone number.

I could impersonate you on Facebook by opening up an account with your name and photo and sending friend requests to everyone you know. Your Facebook account hasn’t been hacked, because I don’t have access to your account. But I’m spoofing you. Pretending to be you in order to get access to other people.

A scammer could also send an email where the sender appears to be your email address. That doesn’t mean he/she has access to your email account or the contents. Only that they’ve phonied the From: to make it appear to be from you. Crooks also use the names of banks, PayPal, Ebay, and other services to trick you into clicking on links.

The person doesn’t have access to your account, but they sure can make it look like it.

Crooks can call your house and put offer fake numbers as information for caller ID. A call from Nigeria or Bulgaria could appear to be coming from your area code.

Basically, when I use the term “hacked,” I mean that someone has actually accessed your account or your data.

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