This in-depth article takes a look at hacking on the Internet. Covering hacker motivation, computer viruses, security, personal firewalls and how to track a hacker!
- Introduction to Hacking
- Hacker Motivation
- Infiltration and Trashing
- Hacking Techniques
- Computer Viruses
- Warez and MP3s
- The Costs and Effects of Hacking on Business
1. Introduction to Hacking
The Internet, like any other new media historically, provides new methods of engaging in illegal activities. That
is not to say that the Internet is intrinsically 'bad', as many tabloid journalists would have us to believe, it is simply a means for
human beings to express themselves and share common interests. Unfortunately, many of these common interests include pornography,
trading Warez (pirated software), trading illegal MP3 files, and engaging in all kinds of fraud such as credit card fraud.
Hacking on the other hand, is a greatly misrepresented activity as portrayed by the wider media and Hollywood movies. Although many
hackers go on from being computer enthusiasts to Warez pirates, many also become system administrators, security consultants or
website managers. This does not fit the stereotypical mould that the media likes to portray, but in many cases it is the reality.
1.1 A Definition of Hacking
There are many good definitions available, the Concise Oxford English Dictionary for example defines a hacker as:
hacker / n
- A person who or thing that hacks or cuts roughly.
- A person who uses computers for a hobby, esp. to gain unauthorised access to data.
This is a simply definition, one which we will have to go beyond to understand. Firstly, there are in essence two types of hackers,
often referred to as 'white-hat' hackers and 'black-hat' hackers.
This type of hacker enjoys learning and working with computer systems, and consequently gains a deeper
understanding of the subject. Such people normally go on to use their hacking skills in legitimate ways, such as becoming
security consultants. The word 'hacker' was originally used to describe people such as these.
This is the more conventional understanding of the term 'hacker', one that is portrayed in newspapers and films
as being essentially 'chaotic', an obsessive social misfit hell-bent on the destruction of everything good about the Internet.
White-hat hackers often call this kind of hacker a 'cracker', as they spend most of their time finding and exploiting system
In reality, nobody really fits into either camp neatly. It is down to the individual's set of ethics to decide what path that they
will take in their hacking career. Not all of the activities of white-hat hackers may be legal, while not all of the black-hat hackers
activities are illegal, so many shades of grey exist.