Hacking has been around a long time ... for more than 40 years by some accounts … which is surprising to some people. Recent media coverage has sensationalized and publicized hacking as a lucrative, dangerous sub-culture and pseudo-industry made-up of hyper intelligent teenagers and reclusive experts who collude in secret to attack, disrupt or manipulate computing devices. That makes for a good antagonist in a movie or book, but it is not an accurate picture of what most hackers are today.
Hacking technically began in the 1960s, at MIT, and was a term coined to describe any process where someone attempts to gain or successfully gains unauthorized access to computer resources. The different types of hacking derive from which motivation is behind it and White, Grey and Black-hat hackers are the three principal flavours or forms that a hacker can take. From petty mischief and theft to vigilantism and even state-sponsored, militarized attacks … all hackers have a gamut of 'reasons' for what they do, even if only to pay the rent or for the sake of simple boredom.
Black-hat Hackers – These are the most commonly assumed and most talked-about form of hackers and most of the hackers in Hollywood are modelled after an imagined version of a Black-hat; nefarious individuals who are out for personal gain. Black-hat hackers will typically find and take advantage of unknown or undiscovered weaknesses or vulnerabilities in an application or system before they are exposed or patched. After finding vulnerabilities, they do NOT inform the system owner(s) and in stead, exploit them for personal gain or to cause carnage.
A Black-hat might say: “I know how to get access … what can I do with it”
White-hat Hackers – These are identical to Black-hat hackers, save for one thing … as White-hat Hackers discover weaknesses and vulnerabilities, they patch them to 'plug the holes' in security to prevent others from finding and/or using them against a system. White-hat or 'Ethical' Hackers seek formal permission from and are usually employed by system owners to effectively test or 'prove' their security system integrity. After finding vulnerabilities, they share them with developers to help fortify security measures.
A White-hat might say: “This is how they can get access … you should fix it”
Grey-hat Hackers – These are an in-between group, where they do not work for personal gain, but may technically use unscrupulous or illegal tools and techniques to commit crimes and do arguably unethical things. Grey-hat hackers would not exploit a system for personal gain, but they might share a vulnerability publicly to prove they found it, indirectly providing Black-hat hackers with a new trick. The motivation for Grey-hat hacking can be anything from pride to revenge to curiosity.
A Grey-hat might say: “This is how I got access … try it for yourself”
Clearly, the lines between the three flavours are fine to say the least … and there is nothing to prevent a White-hat hacker from switching hats now and then .. .depending on the motivation to do so. Beyond different types of hackers, there are also many different and specific forms of hacking. Each form of hacking has a unique target and employs specific tools and skill sets. A few generalized examples of more common forms are:
- Network Hacking – Usually describes collecting information with network tools such as: Telnet, Ping, Tracert, Netstat, etc.
- Computer Hacking – Typically involves unauthorized viewing, creating or modification of files on a specific computer.
- Website Hacking – Assuming control of a website, effectively taking it away from the legitimate owner.
- Email Hacking – Illicit or unauthorized access to an email account or private / personal email correspondence.
- Password Hacking – Sometimes called 'cracking', it is the process of systematically guessing or recovering a secret password or key from data that has been stored in or transmitted by a computer.
Hackers can take many forms and their efforts can have dramatic, sometimes catastrophic effects. The common phrase: “it takes one to know one” describes how our best defence against hacking is to use actual hackers and follow their guidance to find and close gaps. Regardless of who they are, how they are attacking you, why they are attacking and what they want … the hackers are out there and even as they work FOR you … they're focused on finding (and sometimes protecting) potential victims.
Datex has developed a revolutionary new security solution called DataStealth that ensures your data is safe even AFTER a hacker gets it. DataStealth is a new tool that makes protected data computationally infeasible to extract, so it is effectively useless and therefore worthless to hackers once they have it. Since the 'value' of data is gone when the information it contains can not be understood, thieves have nothing to target.
You can't steal what is not there … so contact Datex today and ask how DataStealth can help you!