Hacking is mainly used to describe the activity of gaining access to a computer or phone system illegally, or without authorization. The main objective is to gain control of a computer and thus be able to change, transfer computer file or access data. Hackers are divided into two categories; white hat hackers and black hat hackers. The former use their advanced skills in programming and computer security to test and fix computer security issues. Black hat hackers use their skills to penetrate computer security and firewalls with a malicious objective.
People hack computers and systems for different reasons. They may do it for fun and entertainment, by proving to themselves and to others that they can crack a password or access a highly secure system. They get personal gratification from these exercises. But mainly people hack to commit fraud or steal. Banks, big corporations with information that can be sold in the black market or credit card companies have been the major victims of hacking. This is because the hackers can steal something with high financial value. Others hack into systems just to create confusion and stop the normal processes of a company or institution. For example, they can hack and deny the users access to the system. For the white hats, they hack the system to expose the vulnerabilities of the system and improve the system by fixing the weaknesses exposed. In fact, most companies will hire hackers to try and access their systems, to test security protocols of the system.
With its origin from MIT in 1960, hacking was all about students who had deep interest in developing computing technology by exploring and trying new things rather than using computers just for punching numbers. They were, not really, the A kind of students, but rather students searching for entertainment, and creativity in computer programming and making the computer do what they want. The hackers were often at logger heads with the bureaucrats, like IBM, who created the rules to limit access to computers.
Hacking is not what is shown in Hollywood movies. It might not be as complicated or as simple as they show on screen. It’s all about breaking a computer security and gaining access. It might be as simple as accessing someone’s Facebook account by guessing his or her password, or using something like network analyser that get access to passwords, by capturing the packets being transmitted in the network. For example, Cain and Abel a password recovery tool, cracks password using dictionary, brute force or cryptanalysis. Brute force is where you try a list of possible passwords until you get the right one to access a network or computer system. It may take long or short time depending on the processing speed of your computer, the internet speed and security features of the computer you want to hack. But there are software’s designed to perform the exercise. I will explain some common methods of hacking below.
Trojan horse programs
They are used by hackers to get a back door access to your system. Mostly it seems like a useful computer program but the main intention is either to harm your computer or open an entry point to your system. The infamous Trojan horse includes Net bus, Sub seven, and Back Orifice. They are mainly used for identity theft and other cybercrimes. They are mainly attached on emails and once they run on host computer, they work silently on the background, installing spyware or other misdeeds as they have been instructed. The only way to protect yourself from Trojans is making sure you scan all downloads before installing them on your computer. Have your antivirus and windows defender up to date as many hackers thrive on system weakness.
Distributed denial of service
This where very many computers target one computer, and sends a lot of messages that the computer cannot handle and eventually the computer shut down, or it’s so busy that legitimate users cannot access its services. It starts with the hacker accessing one computer which becomes the master. The master identifies other vulnerable computers and attacks them with malware and eventually the hacker uses the compromised computers to attack the target computer. The main objective is make a machine or network service unavailable to its users. In September 2013, the New York Stock Exchange, Nasdaq and Us Bank websites were among the victims of DDOS.
It is a technology that gets data from a network by reading and monitoring all data that passes through that network through a sniffer program like Cain and Abel. Most of the protocols like SMTP, HTTP are vulnerable to these programs as they send data and passwords that are not encrypted. Normally the sniffing tools are used to monitor network traffic and security by network administrators but can also be used by black hats to steal password and other relevant data. The advantage this method gives to the hacker is that it is very difficult to detect, especially in a network that uses a hub to connect computers in that network.
It is a method used to record all key strokes you make on a computer keyboard. It can either be a hardware device that connects the keyboard and the computer. The hardware saves the keystrokes logs in its built in memory and it is usually hidden from the user of the computer, as they look like normal computer peripherals. Software keystroke loggers can manage to capture screen shots, anything copied on the clipboard, any program or window opened and many others.
Mainly key loggers gather online banking information and password to enable banking fraud. Generally they don’t harm the system, as they are software’s used to gather password and other data for banking fraud or monitoring user activity. The best example was the theft of millions from a Scandinavian bank Nordea. The customers installed a Trojan by the name Haxdoor thinking they were installing an antispam. Later, the Trojan would activate an error message when the customers were registering with the bank online. From here the key logger software embedded in the Trojan would record customer information and the hacker used this info to loot more than $1 dollars from the customers
The main thing is that you want to protect yourself. Make sure that your anti-virus software is up to date and your firewalls are in place. If you do a lot of blogging, make sure you go with a hosting program that protects you as well. Just because a hosting program is cheaper than the next, doesn’t mean that it is a better deal. Do your due diligence and research on various hosting programs to ensure that you protect yourself above all else. Much better to pay a little more for a better program than to pay less and become a victim of hacking!