Before we begin, we must ask ourselves the question: what is hacking? Hacking is the intrusion, by a person or an organization, of a computer system with the aim of obtaining protected and confidential information.
Today, with the accessibility of the internet and the advent of the social networks, users are increasingly vulnerable to cyber-attacks. These attacks, or hackings, can take several forms and are made by different types of people each having particular intention. However, there are several tips and tricks to protect ourselves from this type of threat.
Who are the Hackers?
The word hacker was established in 1959 with the arrival of the first computer at MIT, the IBM 704. Indeed, this computer has attracted students’ interest who did not hesitate to “hack” it to discover even the smallest nooks of the system without worrying about IMB’s use protocols. Then, their intrusion was called “hacking” – meaning the diversion from the usual use of a machine.
It’s important to break the stereotype that all hackers are bad.
Hackers can be divided into three main categories:
White Hat Hacker – This type of hacker is benign. He or she is going to put his expertise and knowledge in the service of the society and participate in the improvement of the safety of the internet. Most are employed as network administrators and are very active in the open source community. The community aspect is very important because the other members who are going to acknowledge the good they do. White Hats have ethics; they will seek to understand an attack to better defend against it in the future.
Black Hat Hacker – The opposites of White Hats, Black Hats are the “bad” hackers. He or she does not share the same community and ethics as the White Hats. Thus, their purpose is to cause the maximum amount of damage on the target. They will bypass and undo the networks of companies, servers, governmental sites… in other words, their intention is to hack!
Grey Hat Hacker – The last main category of hackers is a mix of both first ones. He or she has no harmful intent but they do not hesitate to cross legal limits. They can get into a system illegally in order to expose weaknesses and are usually looking for the feat and fame.
Finally, there are several subcategories of hackers such as Hacktivists, using their expertise and knowledge for political purposes or to express their views. Examples of this are the very famous groups like Anonymous and Lulzsec. There are also Script-Kiddies, neophytes in hacking, using tools created by confirmed hackers to cause damage and boasting of their exploits.
What threats hang overs us?
Let‘s look at which types of threats are hanging over us, our computer systems and our accounts:
Virus –A “malicious software” or “malware” that spreads through networks or removable media. It is going to establish itself within a program duplicate. It remains harmless as long as the program is not executed. Once activated, it can cause considerable damage.
Computer worm – A malware that spreads from computer to computer via the internet or other networks, inflicting heavy damage to the systems. Contrary to viruses, it doesn’t need a host program.
Spyware – Software which collects information stored in the computer and transmits it back to the hacker without the user knowing.
Hijacker – The hacker is going uses identified security flaws in web browsers such as Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox or Edge to gain access to your computer. A Hijacker can then behave like he is using a virus or a spyware.
Trojan horse – Seemingly harmless software, with a malware is hidden inside. Once activated, anything is possible – like the installation of spyware to take control of the target computer etc. …
Email – There are many threats resulting from personal and professional emails. Hoax or spam emails can contain many malwares.
Ransomware – Hostile IT software, takes data of a private individual, a company or any organisation hostage. The ransomware encrypts and locks the infected data. The victim is then directed to pay a ransom in order to get the data back. A ransomware infection is caused by an involuntary download from an email, a hacked website or from another malware.
Phishing – A method which consists of extracting confidential information (password, bank code, pictures …) from users; also known as identity theft. To achieve this, hackers are able to create certified true copies of official websites in order to retrieve your password during log in or, they will use emails pretending to be an employee of your bank, an e-commerce website.
In the next part, we will list actions to be taken in order to prevent and protect yourself against hacking.