• Cybersecurity

    Who is a Hacker

    What is Hacking?

    What is hacking

    The term “hacker” today has garnered a negative connotation. You’ve heard about hackers breaking into computer systems and looking at or even stealing some very sensitive and very private information. 

    Millions of computer users worldwide have felt the effects of hacking activity. That includes attacks, spyware, and other forms of malware that slow down, break into, or even cripple your computer system.

    However, not all hackers are dubious and unscrupulous souls who have nothing better to do in life. Infact, the term “hacker” originally had a very positive and beneficial meaning to it. Traditionally, a Hacker is someone who likes to tinker with computers and other forms of electronics. They enjoy figuring out how current systems work and find ways to improve them.

    In other words, he used to be the guy who had to figure out how to make computers faster and better.

    Nowadays, a hacker is just someone who steals electronic information for their own self-interest.

    Nevertheless, there are still good hackers (white hat hackers) and bad hackers (black hat hackers).

    It basically takes a hacker to catch a hacker and the good news is that a lot of them are on your side of the playing field. 

    The premise of this article is to help you learn the basics of ethical hacking (the stuff that white hat hackers do). But in order to know what to look out for, you will have to catch a glimpse of what black hat hackers do.

    The bottom line here is that hacking is no more than a set of computer skills that can be used for either good or bad. How one uses those skills will clearly define whether one is a white hat or a black hat hacker.

     The skills and tools are always neutral; only when they are used for malicious purposes do they take a turn for the worse.

    What are the Objectives of Ethical Hacking?

    If hacking per se today is bent on stealing valuable information, ethical hacking on the other hand is used to identify possible weak points in your computer system or network and making them secure before the bad guys (aka the black hat hackers) use them against you. It’s the objective of white hat hackers or ethical hackers to do security checks and keep everything secure.

    That is also the reason why some professional white hat hackers are called penetration testing specialists. One rule of thumb to help distinguish penetration testing versus malicious hacking is that white hat hackers have the permission of the system’s owner to try and break their security.

    In the process, if the penetration testing is successful, the owner of the system will end up with a more secure computer system or network system. After all the penetration testing is completed, the ethical hackers the one who’s doing the legal hacking, will recommend security solutions and may even help implement them.

    It is the goal of ethical hackers to hack into a system (the one where they were permitted and hired to hack, specifically by the system’s owner) but they should do so in a non-destructive way. This means that even though they did hack into the system, they should not tamper with the system’s operations.

    Part of their goal is to discover as much vulnerability as they can. They should also be able to enumerate them and report back to the owner of the system that they hacked. 

    It is also their job to proove each piece of vulnerability they discover. This may entail a demonstration or any other kind of evidence that they can present.

    Ethical hackers often report to the owner of the system or at least to the part of a company’s management that is responsible for system security. 

    They work hand in hand with the company to keep the integrity of their computer systems and data. Their final goal is to have the results of their efforts implemented and make the system better secured.

    The Caveat

    There is of course a caveat to all of this. For one thing, you can’t expect to have all bases covered.

    The ideal of protecting any computer system or electronic system from all possible attacks is unrealistic. 

    The only way you can do that is to unplug your system from the network and lock it away somewhere and keep it from all possible contact. By then the information contained in your system will remain useless to anyone.

    No one, not even the best hacker in the world, can plan for everything. There are far too many unknowns our highly connected world. John Chirillo even wrote an entire tome of possible hack attacks that can be performed on any number of systems. That’s how many loopholes there are.

    However, you can test for all the best as well all the known possible attacks. If there is a new way of breaking in, then you can hire an ethical hacker to help you figure out a way to create a countermeasure. 

    Using those means, you can tell that your systems are virtually safe for the time being. You just need to update your security from time to time.

    1 comment: