What is Hacking?
To write a simple definition of what hacking is, it is when someone or a group of people gains unauthorized access to data in a computer, a system or any king of electronic device. Someone that hacks into something is called a Hacker.
When someone hacks into something, they can either:
- Modify/ alter (a computer program or electronic device) or write (a program) in an intelligent or skillful way.
- Or find a way around security and break into (a file, computer, network etc.) usually with bad intentions.
The different types of Hacking
Phishing: A form of internet fraud where people try to steal information that is valuable to the person being hacked such as user IDs, social security numbers, credit cards and passwords. Afterwards, they will make a fake website that looks exactly like a real company. This is to trick people into logging in and giving away their account details.
DDoS Attack: DDoS stands for Distributed Denial of Service. It occurs when multiple systems flood the resources of a target system, usually to more than one web servers. An attack like this is often the cause of multiple compromised systems.
Pharming: A scamming practice when malicious code is installed onto a personal server or computer, falsely directing users to unlawful websites without consent or their own knowledge.
Vishing: The act of using a telephone to potentially scam the user into surrendering private information. This will later be used for identity theft. The scammer often pretends to be a company or a business, and tricks the victim into thinking that they will profit.
Malware: (short for malicious software), is any software that is used to disturb mobile or computer operations, gain access to private computer systems, collect personal information or show unwanted advertising.
Email Scams/ Hoaxes: An email scam is an unwanted email that claims that there is some sort of bargain for nothing. Some scam messages invite victims to a fake website or ask for business. an Email scam is a form of email fraud.
Cookies: A cookie is a small piece of data sent from a website and stored onto a computer by the user's web browser. They are designed to be a reliable way for websites to remember information or to record the user's browsing history. They can also be used to remember information like usernames, passwords, credit card numbers and addresses.
Identity Theft: Identity theft is when a succeeds in taking important information that is personal to the victim to pretend that they are someone else. Eg. credit card numbers. This information can be used to gain credit or services with the name of the victim, or to give the thief false information.
Password Protection: Password protection is a security process that protects the access of information that needs to be protected from other users. Password protection allows those with an authorized password to get access to some information, and those only.
The different types of hackers (coloured hats)
Black-hat Hackers: A black hat hacker is a hacker who violates the security of a computer or any device for malicious reasons or for gain of personal information such as credit card numbers. Black hats fit the broadly stereotyped hackers that perform illegal actions in order to get private information to attack victims.Black- hat hackers generally form illegal hacking groups and are well known to frighten the public.
White-hat Hackers: White-hat hackers are the opposite of black- hat hackers. They are 'ethical hackers', they are experts at reasons. For example, white-hat hackers are often employed to test an organization's computer security where they use their knowledge to compromise the system. Instead of stealing from or vandalizing their system, they report back to the organization telling them how they could improve their defenses.
Grey-hat Hackers: A grey-hat hacker falls in between a black hat hacker and a white hat hacker. A grey-hat hacker doesn't hack for the gain of personal information, but they technically perform unethical things and arguably commit crimes. If a grey-hat hacker discovers a flaw in the security of a software, they may close down the flaw publicly instead of privately. This could cause a carnage as black-hat hackers try to take advantage of this situation.
For example, a black-hat hacker would try to access a computer system without permission and steal the data for personal gain or vandalism. A white- hat hacker would ask for permission before testing the security of a system and then warn the organization. A grey-hat hacker may try to compromise a system without permission but without malicious intentions.
An Example of Hacking
Tesco bank hacking
What happened? On Saturday 5th November, Tesco noticed some suspicious activity on people's bank accounts. The bank then contacted the customers who had been affected and some people had that their accounts showed transactions from other countries like from Spain or Brazil
Who were affected? On approximately 40,000 accounts, suspicious transactions were spotted and money was taken from around 20,000 customers. Many Tesco bank account holders lost hundreds pounds and one customer even reported that they had lost £2,400. Tesco will not discharge on how much money was involved in total.
How was the banks security breached? Tesco has not outlined any further details about how the bank was hacked, nor when debit card users will be able to go back to normal. Tesco Bank must refund payments that were stolen, unless there was any evidence that their account had a fault over a year ago.
How can hacks be protected?
There are several different ways for a computer software or any kind of device to be hacked. In order to try and prevent this, you can:
- Perform required software updates for your web browser or operating system
- Change your passwords regularly
- Download an anti-virus software
- Install a firewall on your computer
- Delete emails from unknown people or companies