Hacking is the act of gaining unauthorized access to a computer system or account to compromise digital devices and networks. Although hacking is frequently connected to cyber criminals’ illegal activities and data theft, hacking is not always for immoral purposes.
Hacking uses devices such as computers, smartphones, tablets, and networks to disrupt or destroy systems, collect information on users, steal data and documents, or interrupt data-related activity.
A lone rogue programmer who is highly competent in coding and changing computer software and hardware systems is the typical image of a hacker. However, this limited perspective fails to capture the whole technical nature of hacking.
Hackers are becoming more sophisticated, using covert attack techniques unnoticed by cybersecurity software and IT professionals. They’re also experts at contriving attack vectors that persuade users to open malicious attachments or dangerous websites, revealing sensitive information.
As a result, modern-day hacking includes significantly more than enraged teenagers in their rooms. It’s a multibillion-dollar business with very complex and effective methods.
History of Hacking?
The term “hacking” first appeared in the 1970s, but it quickly became popular during the next decade. In a 1980 edition of Psychology Today, an article titled “The Hacker Papers” addressed the addictive aspect of computer use. Two years later, two films, Tron and WarGames, were produced. The characters tried to hack into computer networks, bringing the notion of hacking to a broader public and highlighting it as a potential national security threat.
Later that year, a gang of youngsters hacked into large businesses’ computer networks, including Los Alamos National Laboratory, Security Pacific Bank, and Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center. The word “hacker” was first used negatively in a Newsweek article reporting the event.
This event also led Congress to approve various legislation related to computer crimes, yet the frequency of high-profile attacks on business and government networks continued. Of course, the notion of hacking has grown exponentially since the public internet was launched, resulting in many more opportunities and financial incentives for hackers. As a result, tactics evolved and became more sophisticated, giving rise to a diverse variety of hacking and hackers.
Hacking Tools: How Do Hackers Hack?
Hacking is usually a technical endeavor (like creating malvertising that deposits malware in a drive-by attack requiring no user interaction). However, hackers can utilize psychology to persuade users to open a harmful link or provide sensitive information. “Social engineering” is the term for these techniques.
Hacking is a good term to describe the behavior behind most, if not all, malware and malicious attacks on the general public, organizations, and governments. Aside from social engineering and malvertising, the following hacking techniques are commonly used:
- Virus: A computer virus is malicious software (also known as malware) that spreads from computer to computer, causing data and software damage. Computer viruses are designed to cause system disruption, major operational problems, and data loss and leaking.
- Botnet: A botnet [short for bot network] is a hacker-controlled network of hijacked computers and devices infected with bot malware. The bot network may be rented out to other hackers and used to send spam and perform Distributed Denial of Service [DDoS] attacks.
- Trojan: A Trojan Horse Virus is a sort of malware that disguises itself as genuine software and installs it into a computer. An attacker would often use social engineering to embed harmful code within genuine applications in order to acquire system access with their program.
- Rootkit: A rootkit is a collection of malicious computer software that allows unauthorized access to a computer or a portion of its software and frequently hides its existence or the operation of other software.
- Browser hijack: Browser hijacking is a type of unwanted software that alters the settings of a web browser without the user’s permission in order to inject malicious advertising into the browser. A browser hijacker might change your default homepage, error page, or search engine to one of its own.
- Worm: A computer worm is a harmful, self-replicating software program (often called “malware”) that disrupts software and hardware functionality. In many aspects, it meets the definition of a computer virus. It can, for example, self-replicate and propagate across networks.
- Ransomware: Ransomware is malicious software that infects a computer and prevents users from accessing it until a ransom is paid. For several years, ransomware versions have been discovered, and they frequently try to extort money from victims by showing an on-screen alert.
Types Of Hacking
Bad actors hacking websites or systems are typically motivated by four factors:
- Financial gain through stealing credit card information or scamming financial services.
- Espionage in the workplace.
- To become well-known or respected for their hacking skills.
- State-sponsored hacking aimed at stealing corporate data and national intelligence
Furthermore, there are politically motivated hackers—or hacktivists—such as Anonymous, LulzSec, and WikiLeaks—who aim to raise public awareness by leaking sensitive information.
The following are some of the most common types of hackers that engage in these activities:
#1. Black Hat Hackers:
The “bad guys” of the hacking scene are black hat hackers. They go out of the way to find vulnerabilities in computer systems and software in order to exploit them for personal profit or for more nefarious goals, such as gaining a reputation, conducting corporate espionage, or participating in a nation-state hacking campaign.
The acts of these persons have the potential to do significant harm to both computer users and the companies for which they work. They can steal sensitive personal information, undermine computer and financial systems, and disrupt or shut down websites and key networks.
#2. White Hat Hackers:
White hat hackers are the “good guys” who use proactive hacking to stop black hat hackers from succeeding. Ethical hacking is when they utilize their technical talents to break into networks to examine and test the level of network security. This assists in exposing vulnerabilities in systems before they are discovered and exploited by black hat hackers.
White hat hackers utilize tactics similar to, if not identical to, those used by black hat hackers, but companies pay them to test and find possible security flaws.
#3. Gray Hat Hackers:
Gray hat hackers straddle the line between good and bad. Unlike black hat hackers, they try to break the rules and values without aiming to hurt or profit financially. Their acts are usually done for a more significant benefit.
They may, for example, exploit a vulnerability to raise awareness about it, but unlike white hat hackers, they do it in public. This informs malicious players of the vulnerability’s existence.
Ethical Hacking: How Legal is Ethical Hacking?
The acts of white hat security hackers are referred to as ethical hacking. It entails acquiring access to computer systems and networks to test for possible vulnerabilities and repair any identified faults.
Using these technical capabilities for ethical hacking goals is lawful if the individual obtains written authorization from the system or network owner, protects the organization’s privacy, and informs the organization and its vendors of any vulnerabilities discovered.
How to Prevent Yourself From Getting Hacked?
There are a few critical steps and best practices that organizations and people should take to ensure that their chances of being hacked are as low as possible.
- Use a Password Manager.
- Avoid Clicking on Ads or Strange Links.
- Download from Trusted Sources.
- Always use HTTPS Encryption.
- Use Unique Passwords for Different Accounts.
- Install Antivirus Software.
- Use Two-factor Authentication.
- Protect Yourself Against Hacking.
- Use a Virtual Private Network (VPN).
- Always Keep Your Software Updated.