Hacking 101. Here’s what you need to know
Hacking is an activity that compromises digital devices, computers, smartphones, tablets, and the like. Hacking can take control of entire networks. Hacking refers to any malicious activity or taking control of any device for malicious purposes. Hacking in this day and age is considered illegal. Hackers are easily categorized as cybercriminals and so are people who hire a hacker for any illegal and harmful activities. Hacking activities are usually targeted at financial gain, protest, information extortion, spying, and other types of crime.
Who are hackers?
When you hear the word hacker you automatically have a mental picture of a self-taught computer genius who is using all the knowledge for evil. The rogue programmer can modify computer hardware and software, take control of ATMs, and have cash spilling out for thieves and greedy and power-hungry professionals. There are many reasons why this definition of hackers doesn’t apply in this day and age. There are various motivations that drive hackers. You may find that a lot of the time many think that hacking is used to commit crimes, control people, blackmail people and drive ego mains and power-hungry people to terrorize the masses.
Not all hackers are evil and there are many people and corporations who hire hackers to protect themselves from digital threats. Hackers know where their boundaries are, and this is why some are considered criminals and some are not.
How does hacking work?
Hacking is a technical activity in nature. It requires taking the reins on someone’s computer without actually engaging in any interaction whatsoever. Hackers are not just computer geniuses, they are also putting to use psychological tricks to convince the user into clicking on malicious content and in some cases providing personal data. These tactics are known as ‘social engineering and they are best represented by the tacky but intriguing quizzes you play on Facebook that tell you ‘what Friends Character you are?’, after you provide them with your access to your profile and thus, your personal information.
Hacking is an overarching term that doesn’t do justice to the last plethora of tactics that are involved which aren’t specific to computer skills. Hackers launch cyberattacks against governments, banks, businesses, etc. This is not the work of a computer genius alone but the combined effort of someone who is well-versed in a myriad of fields.
Hacking is a field that has evolved from mischief into a profitable business that is well-connected to the world of crime. Hackers require infrastructure to operate and they are provided this infrastructure by certain corporations operating illegally. There are complex tools and software used by hackers, as well as technical skills. Hacking is not something you learn and do in your mom’s garage anymore. It is a whole industry.
Windows users are known to be the worst sufferers against cybercrime and this is because criminals can easily get remote access to IT systems by stores that operate on the dark web. There is software being produced and sold out there which are made for the sole purpose of stealing information, disrupting systems, deploying ransomware, etc.
Types of hacking
Hacking is a broad term so for better understanding there are four reasons why someone would hack or four types of hacking.
- The first type of hacking is the type where a criminal is motivated by financial gain. This kind of criminal activity makes use of credit card numbers, defrauding banks and other systems to get hold of financial assets.
- The second type of hacking is motivated by defamation or ruining someone’s reputation. Hackers such as this operate under a subculture where they are focused on ruining the opposition group, organization or representative’s reputation. The main focus of such hacking attempts is pulling off an expose.
- The third type of hacking is corporate espionage, which enables a company then there’s corporate espionage when one company’s hackers seek to steal information on a competitor’s products and services to gain marketplace advantage.
- Finally, entire nations engage in state-sponsored hacking to steal business and/or national intelligence to hire a hacker and target infrastructures, political systems. Institutions etc, by causing discord, confusion and destabilization. This is run like a campaign or a series of attacks. A good example of this would be hackers disclosing flaws with Microsoft Windows which were previously not known by breaking into the Democratic National Committee (DNC) records.
Hackers have been known to launch attacks on the United States Government records with the intention of instigating the masses and creating international conflicts. WikiLeaks, LulzSec, and Anonymous are good examples of these. Such hackers are known as ‘Hacktivists’.
Similar to SEO, there are black hat hacking tactics and white hat hacking tactics. In some cases, there are also gray hat tactics. Hackers can be good guys and not in the way that you may have Hollywood play it out. In this day and age, the knowledge you need in order to hack someone is not so inaccessible. This is why the ground rules for good and bad hacking are different.
With more reliance on the digital world, we need hacking knowledge not to hack people but to guard ourselves against hacking, where the threat is now everpresent.
You don’t have to be a big shot to get hacked and humiliated publicly, hackers are passively stealing information for petty crimes which require identity theft. Everyone knows a little something about hacking and everyone has to guard themselves against it at some point.
There are hackers with a deep understanding of computers and software and they are working on the basis of theft, blackmail, corporate espionage and activist agenda, but there are people who are hacking to protect national interests. There are people who are hacking to protect their businesses from cybercrimes. There is a degree of white hat hacking being deployed and there are laws in place for it.
Almost every tech organization has a hacker in their team now whose sole responsibility is to test software and applications against weaknesses present in the code making them susceptible to attacks.
Hacking on Android
Hacking is often associated with Windows computers but Android is also known as an inviting target by many. Hackers are known to use low-tech methods for exploiting and taking control of secure communication networks. Mobile phone hackers have a variety of tactics to use and that is intercepting voicemails, phone calls, text messages, and even taking control of phone cameras and microphones. Cybercriminals will use data stored on the phone for identity theft and financial extortion.
Android is a fractured system compared to IOS. Android phones are known to be susceptible to data theft and corruption. There are many different ways that an Android phone can be hacked. Cybercriminals will use your location to carry out other crimes such as spying, kidnapping, etc. By accessing your contacts list, hackers can spread malware-filled content to them as well, jeopardizing them in the process.
There are legal provisions allowing the state to hack your phone and access your texts, phone calls. This although is only warranted when you are a suspect in a case of threat to national security. There are many ways that black hat hackers can harm you by accessing your bank apps, your search history, and the like. The bottom line is that the Android system is not providing the best protection when it comes to hacking.
Phone hackers can take advantage of computer hacking tactics to easily adapt to the way your Android phone works. Phishing is an act of targeting a single member of an organization to reveal sensitive information. This is done through social engineering and is often tried by cybercriminals to advance more complex plans. In essence, they don’t care if your pet’s name is Muffin. But by accessing Muffin at Doggy Day Care they can get you in a vulnerable position and get you to give up the organization’s secrets or give up control of sensitive data you only have access to.
There are many things to look out for when it comes to phishing. You will notice that the app store has downloaded storage apps onto your phone, and now you have a whole new search bar that you can search for things on. This is a dangerous thing. You are essentially falling prey to a hacking attempt when you give access to an app to download things to your phone without your approval.
Third-party apps are apps you download for marketplaces other than the play store and apple store. This is also a dangerous move because third-party apps are often embedded in malware and can seriously affect your phone’s usage, take control of your personal information and leave you with a lot of problems.
Be extremely careful when it comes to using third-party apps.
Another popular tactic used by hackers is bluehacking which shows up as an invitation to connect to a Bluetooth device or network. This is a sophisticated method where you are given access to an unprotected Bluetooth network that can mimic a trusted network on your phone. Once you are connected your messages will be re-routed, you will have your log-in sessions compromised.
Another dangerous thing that can happen is if your phone is unlocked in public, a hacker can simply clone the phone, giving them a copy of all your information and even your SIM card that will work just like yours. You are giving them your phone basically.
Hacking on Mac
Windows gets a bad rep for making people vulnerable to hacking but that doesn’t mean that an Apple user is immune.
Apple has confirmed that Macs can also be hacked and are prone to getting malware. In 2017, the Apple representation claimed that phishing campaigns targeting Mac users were observed in Europe. These hacking admissions proved that through a Trojan, that has an Apple developer certificate, OS X update was installed. Once successful, the hacker has access to the entire communication log, web browser data, and HTTPS connection of the computer. This shows that even a Mac can and has been compromised.
Social engineering is quite possible on a MAC. you will find that the vulnerabilities of Apple are the same if users install from untrustworthy sources. App stores are the best way to prevent hackers from being able to access your devices. The Calisto is a malware variety of Proton Mac that operated for two years before it was discovered in 2018. The malware was traced back to a cybersecurity installer that had access to usernames, passwords, and the like.
The more recent examples of Mac malware include the Silver Sparrow, ThiefQuest, and iTerm2. These viruses and malware can take control of your MAC easily and as it turns out a good Mac antivirus and malware program can easily help you purge your Mac from these vulnerabilities and protect your personal information.
The Dark Web
The internet is made up of web pages and the servers on these pages run 24/7. You can find most sites on Google, Yahoo, etc. that is not all that out there on the internet. With all of this talk about hacking, it is important to understand what the Dark Web is. If you don’t understand what the dark web is you will not be able to grasp the intensity of hacking.
The dark web is a collection of internet sites that you can only access through a specialized web browser. The dark web is used for anonymous internet activity and can give you access to both illegal and legal applications. You can evade government censorship by using the dark web, which is why it is so common for cybercriminals and criminals to use the dark web to purchase drugs, weapons, and a myriad of things. Hacking is not limited to the dark web but you will need access to it if you are downloading hacking software and tools. You may find that you can even hire a hacker on the dark web because there are ads for that on LinkedIn.