The How hackers work.


How do hackers work?

People hear the word “hacker” and they immediately run to their computers ready to install the latest security software and beef up their computers with a ton of firewalls and take other security measures. It’s true that some hackers use their knowledge and skill maliciously, to infiltrate computer systems and get their hands on some of the computer owner’s most personal and confidential data, such as banking information. But if we’re being really honest, the word “hacker” alone doesn’t mean someone who’s out to destroy entire networks and steal other people’s information.

We get the word hacker today from the 1960s, when the term was initially coined. Initially, hackers were thought of as people who simply liked to “hack” out computer code. These hackers had, and still have, a profound interest in computer technology and want to find ways to make computers work in a way that they never have before. Hackers, simply put, only come up with answers to computer problems. And they have the ability to create a code containing these answers that no one else is able to. And the world of computers wouldn’t be what they are today if hackers never existed. Because, it’s only through hackers that we’ve been able to see the full potential that computers have, and make them perform to their full capability. And it’s through hackers that computers will continue to develop and expand so that we can use them in a way that we haven’t yet. So that one day, we might all be saying, “Can you believe we used to only be able to get on the Internet with these things?”

Creating code to answer computer problems was something that the very first hackers did. And while they still do this today, hackers are capable to do so much more. The introduction of computer networks for example, brought a whole new playground for hackers. It was through networks that hackers could really infiltrate systems and jump onto a network that they were not authorized to access. While many of these hackers were just curious-minded individuals that wanted to see just how other networks worked and what their abilities and limitations were, other hackers did have malicious intent and wanted to take over the entire network.

But just how do hackers do what they do? Just how exactly do hackers work?

Different Types of Hacking

In order to be able to virtually hop from computer to computer and network to network, there is one thing that every hacker needs. And that is a computer code. While many hackers have the ability to create their own code for malicious reasons and with the intent of gaining access to others’ information, this makes up a small majority of the hacker population. Often hackers will obtain code from other hackers in order to do what they have in mind. And while it might just be computer code that hackers need, there are thousands of codes that can allow a hacker to get onto any system. Once a hacker is on a system, it doesn’t take long at all for them to figure out how they work, and completely overtake it. There are many different kinds of hacking. Here are a few of them.

Keystroke Log: This kind of hacking monitors and records every keystroke that is made on a keyboard. A keystroke log code is first placed onto a computer and the log is sent to the hacker. The hacker can then see everything that the initial user has done on their computer. And the hacker can then determine how the user accesses their banking information, and is sometimes even used to steal someone’s identity.

Password Hacking: One of the most well known ways a hacker works is to gain access to the passwords that are inputted onto a computer. Gaining these passwords can give hackers access to a wealth of personal information. There are many different ways that hackers can obtain passwords that are not their own. One method is through trial and error, or rather just continuing to manually input every known combination of letters and numbers. This type of hacking passwords is known as a brute force attack. But there’s another way hackers gain passwords, and that’s through a dictionary attack. A dictionary attack will enter common words into a password field until it comes upon the right one that allows access to whatever the password protects.

Viruses: Viruses are probably the most common form of hacking, or rather the one that most people know about. It is possible for a hacker to create a computer code and place it directly onto someone else’s computer. However, a much more common way that hackers release their viruses is through emails, instant messages, downloads on websites, and peer-to-peer networks.

Backdoor Access: Backdoor access simply means finding a sneaky way into someone’s computer. The hacker simply looks for a hole in the computer’s security system, and enters through it. Once they’re on the computer, they have instant access to everything that computer holds and does. This type of hacking was much more common in the early days of computers, before strict security systems were available, and before people really knew how to protect computers properly and the importance of doing so.

Zombie Computers: Hackers use this method of hacking so that they can send spam or Distributed Denial of Service attacks. A hacker first sets up the zombie computer, or bot as they’re also sometimes known, and waits for the computer user to unleash code that appears innocent enough at first glance. What this code actually does however is open up a channel between the user’s computer and the hacker’s computer. The hacker can then use the computer that’s not theirs to send spam, or perform malicious acts, without ever facing the consequences of doing so because it’s not their computer that’s doing the wrongful act.

Email: One very common form of hacking used to be that hackers would intercept email messages going from one computer to another. By inputting code onto one computer, that computer would automatically send any incoming or outgoing emails to the hacker’s computer. However, email programs today are highly sophisticated and have taken care of the hacker threat for now. Usually, emails are so encrypted that even if the hacker gets a hold of emails, they won’t be able to read them but instead, will just be looking at jumbled and scrambled messages that make no sense.

The Hacker Culture

For the most part, hackers are generally antisocial people who can spend hours on a computer, forgetting about anything and everything else. But get a group of hackers together, and they’re likely to talk at long lengths about different codes, tips and tricks of the trade, and of course, boasting about their greatest hacking achievements. This community of hackers has become so large that there are many events around the world held every year that bring hackers together to share this information and socialize with each other.

Computer networks have given hackers a way to communicate with each other much more easily and much quicker than ever before. But even before the Internet was a household commodity, there were ways for hackers to meet up with each other and talk to each other. One of these ways was through Bulletin Board Systems (BBS). These systems were created by hackers and were placed on the individual hacker’s computer. Other hackers could then dial in and log onto the bulletin board. From there they could share information and talk amongst themselves to share their experiences and their hacking knowledge. Programs could also be downloaded using these bulletin boards and games could even be played, making the art of hacking that much more fun!

Oftentimes, these bulletin boards were also used for bragging rights by certain hackers. People would log onto them to brag about the highly secure networks that they infiltrated and sometimes, they would even post pictures of certain documents or data that would prove they actually did what they were claiming. However, most of this was brought to a halt when different governments started to view hacking as a serious computer threat in the mid-1990s.

When a hacker is caught by authorities for trying to infiltrate certain networks or systems, they often admit that they could have done serious harm, when really they were only trying to conquer a personal challenge by getting into a system that no one could before. And as stated earlier, the majority of hackers are really only trying to fill their curiosity and find new ways to do things that have never been done before.

Much of the publicized events and outlets for hackers support hackers that are legally hacking computers. There’s a journal titled “2600: The Hacker Quarterly” that distributes information and allows hackers to meet and challenge each other. This journal not only has a print edition that’s published four times a year, it also has a live broadcast on their website as well as a store that carries things such as t-shirts and other clothing and accessories so that any hacker can express their love of hacking!

Las Vegas holds an event every year called DEFCON, which promotes legal and responsible hacking. Here hackers compete against each other and take part in panels to discuss hacking and again, exchange tips and tricks. Chaos Communication Group also holds an event for hackers to gather, although that event only takes place every four years. Hackers stay in tents and have very basic accommodations and amenities but they are given access to high speed Internet so they can take part in their passion while listening to guest speakers. This event usually takes place just outside of Berlin.

Hackers and the Law

To government officials, hacking is not something to be taken lightly. And many courts won’t even listen to a hacker who claims that they were just trying to satisfy their own curiosity or learn a new system. But, there are some loopholes in the law and many hackers have won their case in court just by knowing how to work the system.

In the United States, there’s a law pertaining to the creation, use, and distribution of computer codes in order to gain access to a system that they are not authorized to enter. However, the law is worded in such a way that it only states that using these codes with malicious intent is unlawful. So hackers can, and have, argued that they were only hacking to learn more about the system and computer codes and that they were not trying to destroy networks or steal information.

However, also in the United States, it is illegal for hackers to enter any government computer network or system, no matter what their intent is upon entering. This means that breaking into a government computer system is automatically punishable and has virtually no defense. If a hacker is found guilty of this offense, or any other hacking offense, the punishment doled out varies. A minor offense might only get a hacker six month’s probation while a more heinous offense could earn a hacker up to 20 years of jail time.

Many countries other than the United States have laws pertaining to hacking but these laws are usually much vaguer. In Germany for example, there’s a law against anyone using hacker tools. This law presents a problem because it’s simply too broad a categorization and many legal methods could ultimately be considered illegal. For instance, a company could be penalized for using hacker tools when they hire a hacker to fix problems with their computer systems.

One of the most difficult things about punishing hackers is that they really don’t have a lot of physical boundaries, and this presents a problem with jurisdiction. While a hacker could be sitting at their computer in the United States, they could be hacking into a computer system in England. If found, it’s difficult to determine who’s jurisdiction the hacker is in and which laws were broken. Once that has been decided, it then costs money to extradite the hacker to the country in which their trial will take place.

Hackers, for the most part, are simply very curious people who have a hunger for knowing exactly how different computer systems and networks operate. Most people have unpleasant images of hackers being people who live to destroy lives and cause great harm because those unfortunately, are the only hackers that the public usually hears about. The hackers that play it a little more “behind the scenes” actually make up the majority of hackers. It is these brilliant minds that are continually trying to find new ways to use computers, and make them work for us, so that we can become even more technologically advanced and take our own computers to new heights!


 How hackers work.