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Cybersecurity Horror Stories to Tell In the Dark

By The Fullstack Academy Team

Working at night with coffee cup

Cybercrime poses a very real threat to individuals and their data. However, at Emory Tech Bootcamps, we believe learning how to protect yourself online doesn’t have to be a solemn chore. In fact, our passionate cybersecurity instructors and alumni tend to agree with the majority of working cyber professionals—who report a high level of job satisfaction in their work.

In this spirit (in addition to the Halloween spirit!), we’ve created 5 hypothetical horror stories to help inform, entertain, and inspire you to secure your data this season and beyond.

Read on to learn how cybersecurity best practices can help you prevent a harrowing tale of your own this Halloween, then explore cybersecurity career training with Emory Tech Bootcamps!

Phishing In the Dark

You’re preparing for a classic nighttime hayride when you hear it: the theme from Halloween, which means (in this case) that you’ve received a text message.

The text is from a package delivery service you’ve used in the past. You recognize the brand name and famous tagline of the provider in the intro of the message, and it also states that your package is being held at a warehouse near you—for which they’ve conveniently included the link. “Ooh, a package!” you think to yourself, imagining what kind of sweet fall treats could be inside. Seconds before clicking the link, you think again.

It occurs to you that something seems “phishy” about this text. For one, the sender information is inconsistent with those of the tracking alerts you’ve signed up to receive in the past. Then, you remember you’ve not signed up for these alerts recently, that you’re not expecting a package at all, and that both the brand name and the tagline are *gasp* misspelled!

Phishing scams have come a long way from phone calls contacting you about your car’s extended warranty, you think to yourself. After promptly reporting the message to your cell phone provider, you may now enjoy a night in the pumpkin patch.

Malware Beware

Burning the midnight oil at your local shared workspace, you notice your laptop slowing down. Your updates to the spreadsheet you’re working on creep along for seconds before they finally appear, while newly opened browser windows flicker like the lights of a haunted mansion.

You ask your deskmate if they’re experiencing the same thing, and they admit they are. This strikes you as odd, but you chalk it up to an overworked wifi network before packing up and going home.

Once there, you boot your computer up again and notice that its waking nightmare is far from over. You scan for malware, and there it is: a files-eating virus tearing its way through your computer. How? You realize with horror that the malware must have been spread through the workspace wifi—like a call coming from inside the house!

Right away, you know who to contact (your device’s tech support, not Ghostbusters). And next time you’ll think twice about using public wifi without a VPN.

Ready to jumpstart a career in cybersecurity?

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Tales from Beyond the Cryptography

You’re carving pumpkins when you receive an alert that your favorite fitness app has suffered a wide-ranging data breach. This means the username/password combination you use for the app has been exposed and may, even now, be making its way to the deep dark web.

Now, this should be a simple matter of changing your password for the app. But wait! You’ve used this exact username/password combination across multiple accounts—making it possible for cybercriminals to dress up as YOU for Halloween so they can steal your payment details and other account information!

Luckily, you’ve enabled multi-factor identification on these accounts, and while it’s still best to create unique passwords for each one, you’ll be alerted by email or SMS if someone uses an unfamiliar device to try to log in. Nice try, hackers. You would've gotten away with it, too, if it weren’t for those meddling cybersecurity professionals and their use of sophisticated cryptography!

The Hall of Mirrors

It’s time for your favorite carnival attraction: the hall of mirrors! Only this time, we’ve raised the stakes—making it digital.

Let’s play a game: Each of these mirrors represents a variation of the strong password you need to get into the one hidden door. This door is the only way in or out of your Big Corporate Account, and because it’s such an important and well-protected one, getting it wrong means being locked out of your account for SIXTY MINUTES!

Since you’ve not installed a password manager tool on this device, you will need to guess the correct combination of letters, numbers, and special characters you’ve used to set this account up. You have 3 guesses, and your time starts now.

Invasion from Outer Cyberspace

After signing into your own streaming service at an Airbnb cabin in the woods, you forget to remove that TV from your account and disable access. Now, your watch-next algorithm is all over the place, and you can’t remember where you left off in your annual rewatch of Gilmore Girls. Sure, it could have been worse, as no one has stolen your sensitive information. But you’ll always remember having to re-rewatch Season 1.

If these grisly tales were enough to intrigue you, consider learning more about cybersecurity when you sign up for Emory Tech Bootcamps’s no-cost Hacking 101 course. While not bone-chilling, you will learn about the current cyber landscape, best practices on both the individual and organizational level, and more!