Hacking is the process of gaining unauthorized access into a computer system, or group of computer systems. This is done through cracking of passwords and codes which gives access to the systems. Cracking is the term which specifies the method by which the password or code is obtained. The person who undertakes hacking is known as the hacker. The hacking can be done on single systems, a group of systems, an entire LAN network, a website or a social media site or an email account. The access to a password is obtained by the hacker through password cracking algorithms programs.
It goes without saying that most of the individuals, as well as business associations, use computers and laptops for all their daily needs. Especially for organizations (of any form), it is essential to have a computer network, domain or website, Wide Area Network (WAN) for a seamless flow of information and business applications. Consequently, these networks are under a high-risk exposure to the outside world of hacking and hackers.
The objectives of hacking
More often than not, the intent of hacking is mostly mala fide i.e. criminal or malicious intent, either to commit some fraud or to cause some financial or reputational harm to the person, group or entity so hacked. This is done through stealing of confidential data or embezzlement of funds or other monetary resources, causing business disruptions, spreading of incorrect and malicious rumours, other misleading information which is socially detrimental. Many a time, hacking is also defined as a form of cyber or internet crime which is punishable by law.
However, there is another side to hacking which is done on a professional level by accredited institutions and government law agencies. This is to counter the wrong intentions of the hackers or to prevent any harm being caused to individuals, bodies or associations. It is also undertaken for the safety and protection of the citizens and society at large.
Types of hackers
To detail on the above-broached objectives of hacking, it is necessary to know what types of hackers are there in the cyber segment so as to differentiate between the roles and objectives.
Also known as black hat, these types of hackers always have a mala fide intention and they access computer networks, websites in an unauthorized manner. The intent is for personal gain through stealing of confidential organizational data, stealing of funds from online bank accounts, privacy right violations to benefit criminal organizations etc. In today’s scenario, most of the hackers belong to this category and carry on their activities in a shady manner.
· Ethical Hacker
Also known as white hat, they are recognized and officially stamped hackers who access systems to asses to identify and eliminate suspected weakness. Other responsibilities include vulnerability assessment, cracking of codes of illegal or anti-social setups, retrieval of crucial data required for security purposes. These are highly trained, certified and paid professionals.
· Grey Hat
They lie between the above-mentioned type of hackers i.e. they take the recourse of unauthorized access to a system but not with any fraudulent intent. The objective is to reveal the vulnerabilities and weakness of the system’s stakeholders.
These hackers are those who are focussed on hacking websites and leaving contentious information on such websites. This is to spread political, social, religious messages. This can also take the form of targeting other nations.
Types of hacking
One of the most frequent threats of hacking is those faced by the websites. It is very common to see a particular website or online account being hacked open intentionally using unauthorized access and its contents being changed or made public. The web sites of political or social organizations are the frequent targets by groups or individuals opposed to them. It is also not uncommon to see governmental or national information website being hacked. Some of the well-known methods in website hacking are:
This implies replicating the original website so that the unsuspecting user enters the information like account password, credit card details, which the hacker seizes and misuses. The banking websites are the frequent target for this.
These are released by the hacker into the files of the website once they enter into it. The purpose is to corrupt the information or resources on the website.
· UI redress
In this method the hacker creates a fake user interface and when the user clicks with the intent of going to a certain website, they are directed to another site altogether.
· Cookie theft
Hackers accesses the website using malicious codes and steal cookies which contain confidential information, login passwords etc.
· DNS spoofing
This basically uses the cache data of a website or domain that the user might have forgotten about. It then directs the data to another malicious website.
How to guard against hacking?
Hacking is a persistent threat affecting the very security of a nation and its citizens. At the individual level, it can cause untold financial losses by sometimes wiping away the entire hard-earned financial savings of the person. At the organizational level, it has led to the theft of date leading to major financial losses and long term repercussions. It is imperative to put safeguards at the right time and at all levels to blockade this vicious menace.
Virtual Private Networks (VPN) is a protocol by which corporate networks connect to offsite and remote locations through a point to point tunnel like connectivity. VPN resources such as ExpressVPN, securely cover the transmitting and receiving IP addresses thereby preventing any hacker from making any unauthorized encroachment. Furthermore, any data transmission over this tunnel is subject to a very high level of encryption thereby preventing leakage of any sorts. Normally security firewalls are placed at multiple levels of the network and security policies are defined at the highest level leading to a near to 100 % security coverage.
The VPN can also be provided by an Internet Security provider (ISP) through a private tunnel on the public cloud. This is used for multipoint and multi-locational connectivity by corporate organizations.