Hacking is the term used to describe acts intended at accessing digital devices such as computers, cellphones, tablets, and even entire networks. While hacking isn’t necessarily for harmful objectives, most references to hacking, and hackers, currently describe it/them as illegal cybercriminal activity motivated by financial gain, protest, information gathering (spying), or even just for the “fun” of the challenge.
Many people believe that the term “hacker” refers to a self-taught genius or rogue programmer capable of changing computer hardware or software to allow it to be used in ways that the original authors never intended. However, this is a limited perspective that does not begin to cover the huge range of reasons why people turn to hacking. (Read Wendy Zamora’s “Under the Hoodie: Why Money, Power, and Ego Drive Hackers to Cybercrime” for a more in-depth look at hackers.)
Who is a Hacker?
A hacker is somebody who looks out and uses weaknesses in computer systems and/or networks in order to gain access. Hackers are typically experienced computer programmers with a working understanding of computer security.
Types of Hackers
Hackers are categorized based on the purpose of their actions. The following is a list of different sorts of hackers and how they are classified based on their intentions:
|Ethical Hacker (White hat): A security hacker who gains access to systems in order to fix the weaknesses that have been discovered. Penetration testing and vulnerability assessments may also be performed by them.|
|Cracker (Black hat): For personal gain, a hacker who gains unauthorized access to computer systems. Typically, the goal is to steal company data, violate privacy rights, and transfer funds from bank accounts, among other things.|
|Grey hat: A hacker who falls in the middle of ethical and black hat hackers. He or she enters computer systems without authorization in order to find weaknesses and reveal them to the system owner.|
|Script kiddies: A non-skilled person who uses already made tools to obtain access to computer systems.|
|Hacktivist: A hacker who uses hacking to deliver messages about social, religious, and political issues, among other things. This is normally done by hijacking websites and posting the message there.|
|Phreaker: A hacker who targets and exploits weaknesses in telephones rather than computers.|
What is Ethical Hacking?
Ethical hacking is the process of identifying weaknesses in computer systems and/or networks and devising countermeasures to protect those flaws. The following guidelines must be followed by ethical hackers.
- Get written permission from the owner of the computer system and/or computer network before hacking.
- Protect the privacy of the organization been hacked.
- Transparently report all the identified weaknesses in the computer system to the organization.
- Inform hardware and software vendors of the identified weaknesses.
- Information is one of an organization’s most valuable assets. Keeping information secure can protect a business image while also saving money.
- For companies that deal with finance, such as PayPal, fake hacking might result in a loss of business. Ethical hacking allows them to stay one step ahead of cyber criminals, who would otherwise cause them to lose money.
Some Hacking Prevention Tips
When was the last time you used Wi-Fi in a public place? Almost every coffee shop, library, airport, and hotel now has a means for you to use your phone or other mobile device to access the internet. That means that unless you’ve taken measures to protect your data, hackers in the area may gain access to the information on your phone. The University of Michigan has made the following suggestions:
- Don’t access personal or financial data with public Wi-Fi. This may sound obvious, but you’d be amazed how many individuals use public Wi-Fi to check their bank accounts or make credit card purchases. It’s best to do this over a secure connection.
- Turn off anything you don’t need. Hackers can access your information, location, or connection by using certain features on your phone. So, rather of leaving your GPS, wireless connection, or geo-tracking on all the time, only use them when you need them.
- Choose your apps wisely. Only download software from trustworthy providers with a strong track record. Make sure your software and apps are up to date, and get rid of any old apps you aren’t using.
- Use a password, lock code or encryption: Make your passwords at least eight characters lengthy, with a combination of upper and lower case, digits, and other characters, and never use the password auto-complete tool. To secure your personal information, use your phone’s storage encryption option and set your screen to timeout after five minutes or fewer.
- Be skeptical about links and attachments: Do not use the link or open the attachment if you are unsure about the source.
- Trace or erase: If your mobile device is stolen or lost, be sure your data is safe. After a certain number of failed log-in attempts, you can set your device to lock itself.
- Hacking is identifying and exploiting weaknesses in computer systems and/or computer networks.
- Ethical Hacking is about improving the security of computer systems and/or computer networks.
- Ethical Hacking is legal.
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