Computer Hackers look for gaps and weaknesses in computer code (that’s the stuff which makes your laptop work) and break in. They can do this to cause harm, steal personal details like your banking PIN number or just simply to have fun. Some hackers work to improve computer security by exposing the flaws in the technology. Yes, you heard that right.
It’s tough being a Millennial. We were born just on the cusp of the computer revolution. Nowadays, kids in primary schools are being taught to code and hacking groups like Anonymous and the South Korea Hacker gangs are hitting the headlines.
In recent years a whole hacking culture has evolved. So, if you technically want to be a hacker, TECHNICALLY, what would that entail?
If it seems complex, well that’s because it is.
Contrary to popular belief, hackers aren’t just criminals or geeks. There are many different types of hackers. There are “White Hats”, “Black Hats” and even “Grey Hats”. Hackers love hats.
Not really. The colour of hat just shows why you are hacking. For example White Hats hack to find weaknesses in order to improve them. Black Hats generally do it to cause trouble. And Grey Hats sit in the middle. They will look for websites or companies to hack for fun, but will sometimes offer to fix the problem. For a fee of course. Hackers gotta eat just like the rest of us.
You’ll start out as a “Noob” or newbie, and then work your way up. Work hard and you could become an Elite Hacker.
Or if that seems like a massive effort you could just become a “Script Kiddie”. They are hackers who use code written by other hackers. Takes all sorts I suppose.
Now you’ve chosen the type of hacker you want to be, you need to find a way to access other people’s computers.
The most common hack is a Virus. If this gets into your computer it basically tries to screw everything. It attaches itself to a programme like Word or Excel. Every time you run that programme the virus will reproduce and spread through the computer. Viruses slow down the computer and eventually cause it to crash.
Another type is a “Trojan”. Just like a Trojan Horse, this pretends to be doing something else whilst accessing your data. Trojans are often hidden in downloads like games or music. When you try to play the game, the Trojan deletes everything on your computer.
If you want to find passwords you might choose to use a “Logger”. Hint: it’s nothing to do with lumberjacks. Loggers record what you type. Get it into someone’s computer and when they enter a password, you get a record of what they write.
The most common way of trying to get viruses and other programmes onto another computer is through email. So when you receive another email saying you’re owed $220,000 from “your good friend” it’s probably a good idea not to open it.
There are many other ways to hack into computers. “Brute Force” attacks go through password combinations and “Worms” can spread to different computers using shared connections like Wi-Fi.
Hacker culture is massive. So if you want to be the best, you gotta learn from the best. If you don’t fancy trawling seedy internet chatrooms you can go on legal hacking courses. Big companies allow hackers to take part in a “penetration test”. Sounds kind of dirty but it just means they let you hack them to test their security.
We recently learnt about a hacking “nation state”. These are groups of hackers who work together to achieve the same goal. A group called “The Guardians of Peace” decided they had beef with film company Sony. You would have heard of this but why? Sony was about to release a film which was about two Americans killing the North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.
We don’t know why Guardians of Peace took a dislike to this. But whatever the reason they hacked Sony and released some controversial emails from Sony bosses. Some of whom have had to quit.
One man’s freedom of speech is another’s shame.
The suspicion fell on North Korea, but it’s not been proved they were involved. However a man who escaped from North Korea, yes we said escaped, has claimed they have an army of hackers waiting to do serious damage to anyone who crosses them. Should we believe it? Who knows.
Guardians of Peace might see themselves as “hacktivists”. These are computer hackers who infiltrate computers or systems for a social or political reason.