What is Hacking?

Hacking is when someone gains unauthorized access to data in a system or computer. That someone is called a "hacker". In the news, hacking is a common topic as with today's technology hacking is rather popular. There are lots of different types of hacking and hackers.

Types of Hackers

Spy hacker: The act or practice of obtaining secrets without the permission of the holder of the information

Cyber terrorist: The politically motivated use of computers and information technology to cause severe disruption or widespread fear

Security hacker: Someone who seeks to breach defences and exploit weaknesses in a computer system or network

Script kiddie hacker: Copy codes to create viruses

Grey hat hacker: Computer hacker or computer security expert who may sometimes violate laws or typical ethical standards, but does not have the malicious intent

Black hat hacker: An individual with extensive computer knowledge whose purpose is to breach or bypass internet security with an intent to break things

White hat hacker: A computer security specialist who breaks into protected systems and networks to test and asses their security

Green hat hacker: They care about hacking and strive to become full-blown hackers

Blue hat hacker: Seek vengeance on those who have made them angry

Red hat hacker: They upload viruses to shut other hackers down

Types of Hacking

Phishing: The attempt to obtain sensitive information often for malicious reasons in an electronic communication

A Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) Attack: An attempt to make an online service unavailable by overwhelming it with traffic from multiple sources

Pharming: A cyber attack intended to redirect a website's traffic to another, fake, site

Vishing: The act of using the telephone in an attempt to scam the user into surrendering private information that will be used for identity theft

Malware: A software which is specifically designed to disrupt or damage a computer system.

Email Scams/Hoaxes: The act of a scammer tricking the victim into sending either money or bank account details to them.

Hacking Cases: British Airways

Last year, the well known airline company "British Airways" was hacked. Hackers have accessed tens of thousands of British Airways frequent-flyer accounts.

The airline said no personal information had been viewed or stolen and it had frozen affected accounts while it resolves the issue. It means top executive club flyers may not be able to use their points until the issue is resolved.

BA apologised to customers and said it expected to have the system back up and running.

It is not known who was behind the hack, but it is believed to have been carried out by an automated computer program looking for vulnerabilities in the company’s online security systems.

Hacking Cases: NHS

Laptops holding the records of eight million patients went missing from an NHS store room.

According to the report, the laptop was one of 20 that disappeared from offices of the North Central London Strategic Health Authority. The room was being used by London Health Programmes, a medical research organisation.

The computers went missing for three weeks until it was reported to the police. The unencrypted records held details of 8.63 million patients and 18 million hospital visits, procedures and operations.

Reportedly, the police said they were “dismayed” by the loss and the incident has been passed to the Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) for further investigation.

The stolen personal details only recorded gender, age, ethnic origin and postcode but not the patient’s name. Even so, a little research could easily reveal the identity of the individuals.

Of the other 19 laptops, eight have been recovered, but where and how has not been revealed, and the search continues for the rest.

How can Hacking be prevented?

All of these reports in the news can worry us and make us feel scared and frightened of the internet. But don't be! The internet is an amazing invention and even though hacking is out there and can happen to anyone, we should all still protect ourselves. Here are six easy steps to make sure we don't get hacked:

1. Perform required software updates for your operating system and web browser.

Hackers attack where they see weakness. A system that hasn't been updated recently has flaws in it that can be taken advantage of by hackers.

2. Install a firewall on your computer.

Firewalls forbid outside threats such as hackers and viruses from gaining access to your system. Personalize your firewall settings during the setup process to reflect how much data you want to allow into your system from the Internet, and update your firewall regularly.

3. Change your passwords often.

Use a different password for each website you regularly log into, and make sure your passwords are long and intricate so that they're harder to guess. It's especially important to keep your banking and other financial accounts secure.

4. Purchase or download anti-virus software.

Many computers come installed with certain anti-virus software, but if not, or if you want more powerful software, research online to find what product suits you. Anti-virus software is crucial to keep your computer healthy. A "sick" computer, or one racked with viruses, is more susceptible to hacking. Set your preferences so your anti-virus software updates automatically.

5. Install anti-spyware/adware programs onto your system.

This type of intrusion is not as dangerous as a virus, but adware places advertisements onto your browser and incorporates pop-ups into your programs. This can slow down your computer, making you vulnerable to a hacker. Spyware can survey your Internet behavior and copy your passwords to use for illegitimate purposes.

6. Delete emails from unknown sources.

Never click on an emailed link that looks questionable. It may be a virus.

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