The term “computer hacking” has become a bit of a buzzword in our modern technologically-dependent society. The mere mention of the phrase evokes images of a shadowy figure tapping furiously on a keyboard in a dark room, as line after line of green code cascades down a black computer screen. That's the Hollywood depiction, but the reality is much different.

Does this look like the sort of individual who might steal your identity? The video below may surprise you.

This may not look like someone who'd steal your identity, but the video below may surprise you.

The real “hacking” that takes place is more often than not just social engineering. Social engineering exploits the gullibility of humans to negotiate around security features. For example, a malicious individual might call your bank and convince the call center representative to share your personal information. In many cases, these techniques mean that so-called computer hackers don't need to write a single line of code to steal your identity or your money.

Real Future created a short documentary about the reality of computer hackers and social engineers, and it's definitely interesting to watch:

This video is rather terrifying, since it shows how vulnerable our digital lives really are. However, we especially liked the analogy presented by Morgan Marquis-Boire near the end of the video—you probably don't worry about expert martial artists fighting you on the street, so you also shouldn't be overly concerned about world-renowned computer hackers focusing their efforts on you. If they did, there wouldn't be much you could do about it.

What you should be doing is preparing for the smaller security threats you may be facing every day. You can start by reading our guides on how to set up a VPN (or virtual private network) and how to defend against RFID identity theft.

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