Everybody is always talking about the dangers of hacking these days. Hackers are becoming increasingly good at attacking private systems and cybersecurity is a top priority for many people. I can understand why hackers would want to get into the systems of businesses that hold sensitive information or the websites of government authorities that they don’t agree with, but what I can’t understand is why they would want to target somebody like me. If they got into my email account, they wouldn’t find anything apart from a whole lot of spam and the occasional meme that one of my friends has sent me. If they got into my phone, there would be a lot of boring texts to friends and family that don’t seem like they would be much use to them, but I still keep hearing that I need to protect myself. I’ve read a lot of articles about VPN’s that can protect you when you’re connected to an open wifi network but do I really need them? People are always talking about the dangers of hacking, but nobody ever really tells me exactly how these people are getting into private systems, and what they’re doing it for. If you’re feeling the same, here is a rundown of the methods that they use, and what exactly they’re after.
Distributed Denial of Service attacks are one of the most common forms of hacking out there. The way that they work is they send a website huge amounts of requests all at once, overloading the system and making it crash. It’s essentially the same as millions of people trying to access a site at the same time and it can’t deal with the level of traffic so it simply crashes. In recent years, groups like Anonymous have used them to crash the websites of organizations that they feel have wronged them. There is no monetary gain or stealing of information involved, it exists simply to inconvenience somebody.
Trojan horse gets its name from the famous tale of the Greeks attack on Troy. The story goes that, after a long drawn out siege, the Greeks left a huge wooden horse as a peace offering outside the gates of Troy. The Trojans brought it inside willingly, and once it was there, Greek soldiers that had been hiding inside jumped out and attacked the city. In terms of hacking, a Trojan horse works in the same way. It is usually hidden in a piece of software that you download onto your computer willingly. Once you have installed the software, the Trojan horse will activate. They usually contain what is known as a ‘back door’. It allows the person that created the Trojan to access every single part of your computer and do what you like with it. This means that they can steal files, send emails and other information from your computer, or simply shut it down.
A Virus gets its name because it acts like a virus that a person might contract. Its only purpose is to attack your computer in some way, and once on there, it will try to multiply and spread. Most viruses aren’t created for any particular reason, they are just there to break your computer and inconvenience you in some way. The ‘I Love You’ virus is one of the most famous examples out there because of the sheer amount of damage that it caused. It entered your computer by way of an email, with ‘I Love You’ in the subject bar. As soon as you opened the email, it attached itself to your computer, sent the email out again to everybody in your address book, and then went to override all of the files so your computer was unusable. In the end it managed to infect around 10 percent of all of the world’s computers.
A worm is like a cross between a virus and a DDoS attack. They infect your computer and slowly use up its resources. You won’t notice it’s happening until it’s too late and your computer gets overloaded and crashed. Just like a DDoS attack, it isn’t used to gain access to your computer or steal any information.
So, those are the main methods that hackers use to gain access to, or disrupt computer systems, but why do they do it?
Contrary to popular belief, the majority of hackers aren’t in it for the money. In some cases, hackers may use a Trojan horse to steal valuable information like credit card details that they can then use to steal money from people’s bank accounts. They can also hack companies that hold valuable information and threaten to release that information unless they are paid a ransom. If you are a business owner, it is important to protect yourself. IT outsourcing companies are a must because they can offer you a professional level of protection. It’s a common mistake to think that the virus protection software that you can download for free will be enough to keep you from getting attacked. Hackers target the most vulnerable companies that they can find so if you don’t have adequate security, you’re likely to be hit. In terms of personal computers, you aren’t likely to be hit by people looking to make money.
Being able to use your computer as if it were their own is the motivation behind a lot of hacking attacks. Hackers are in a constant battle with the authorities that are trying to stop them. That means it’s very dangerous for them to speak on open networks about their plans. They can be traced by their ip address and found out. A lot of the time, they use encrypted networks, but they can also use your computer remotely by putting a Trojan horse on there. If the authorities trace it, it will come back to you, not them. People may also want to get onto your computer so they can use it as a storage space for illegal files that they don’t want to risk having on their own computer. This is one of the biggest dangers for people’s personal computers. Hackers won’t attack well-defended systems like businesses or government organizations because they don’t need to. Any computer will do so they are more likely to attack the vulnerable personal computers of average people. Anybody is at risk of this so always be aware of what you are downloading, and scan it for Trojan horses before installing anything.
Hacking has been big in the news over the last few years after groups like Anonymous used it as a way of attacking political institutions that they felt were criminal. In 2012, the FBI shut down the popular download site MegaUpload. Anonymous felt this was unjust so they responded in kind by shutting down the website of recording and movie industries that had pressured the FBI to shut the site down in the first place. Since then they have carried out attacks on all sorts of institutions like Fox News and Donald Trump’s website in order to make a political statement.
Hacking is sometimes used as a way to get revenge on somebody. Somebody that has been fired by a company might decide to bring down their website as a way of getting back at them. Or people might hack a personal computer and post private details or pictures to the internet if they have a dispute with somebody. As long as you don’t make any enemies, you should be safe from this.
When people think of hackers they either think of criminals or bored teenagers trying to annoy people. But there are actually a lot of hackers out there that do it for good reasons. Ethical hacking is the practice of attacking a website and infiltrating it so they can find where the weaknesses are. They then advise the companies on how to plug the gaps to stop themselves from being attacked by hackers in future that might have worse intentions. Some ethical hackers work alone and do it off their own back, but there are people that are employed by companies to constantly try to break into their systems and then fix the vulnerabilities.
A huge portion of the hackers out there don’t do it for any of the above reasons. They do it for one simple reason; for fun. They see it as a challenge and they enjoy the puzzles involved with hacking. Trying to get into more and more advanced systems is nothing more than a game to them. They tend to use viruses or DDoS attacks to bring down sites just to see if they can. In hacking communities, there is also a lot of showmanship. People will bring down well-protected sites to prove to their friends that they are the better hacker.
Most people aren’t at a huge risk of hacking, but people may still want to use your computer for illegal practices. However, if you’re a business, you could be at risk of any of these attacks so you should always keep yourself protected.
CEO and Founder at Mighty Shouts.
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