What is Hacking: How do Hackers Hack?

Hacking refers to hacking digital devices such as computers, smartphones, tablets, and even entire networks. Hackers are motivated by personal gain, asserting themselves, or simply for fun.

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What Is Hacking? - About Hackers & Motivation | Gridinsoft

What Is Hacking?

Imagining the dark silhouette covered with a dark hoodie? Or the super-fast clicks on the keyboard? Forget about these stereotypes - hackers look like usual people, without any contrasts with a crowd. But what and how can they do - let’s figure this out.

Hacking is a process of breaking into a particular system with methods that were not foreseen by the person who designed this system. Under the term “system”, I mean any website, database, computer network - anything with a strict structure and specific protection mechanisms. Hackers try to get access to this network or database - to get some valuable information, for sabotage, or just for fun.

Sometimes, large corporations may hire specially trained persons, which are paid for finding the possible breaches in the security of a system. Then, trying to hack into the computer network, they will figure out which elements are vulnerable to potential attacks. Sometimes, hackers do this even without any offer - just reporting the company about the breaches they found. Then, with a 50/50 chance, they will be granted a certain sum of money or reported to the FBI for committing a cyberattack.

How is it conducted?

Of course, hacking can barely be performed without special tools. It is possible to break into something poorly protected, especially if you have a powerful PC configuration. Even the most simple hacking method - brute force - requires a pretty powerful GPU if you want to conduct this operation fast enough. For example, the brute force operation will take about 4 hours with GTX 1080 GPU and take about half an hour with RTX 2080.

Hardware facilities are not a single thing that is needed by hackers. The majority of hacking cases are conducted with specialized software - programs designed to break into someone’s system or have the functionality that allows the hacker to perform specific tasks. Various networking applications will enable users to check all opened ports of the particular network or tools for FTP/SFTP connections are perfect examples of the last category. Initially, these tools were designed for human actions, but hackers discovered that they are pretty helpful for their evil tasks.

What are hackers searching for, and why?

Experienced network engineers know which ports in any network are vulnerable. Hence, they usually close these breaches on the stage of network establishing. However, things may differ when the network is designed by a non-professional. When such a sensitive thing is set up by a person who checks the manual for each step, it is pretty easy to see many vulnerabilities in it.

What can hackers do through the opened and vulnerable ports? It is effortless to access the whole network or a server, which has this port opened. Hackers scan the web for possible vulnerable ports left open and then start the brute force, attempting to log into the network as administrator. In case of success, it is pretty easy to imagine what they can do - from infecting the network with ransomware to destroying the network and deleting all files on the server.

Some of the hackers are not targeting malware injection or vandalism. Instead, these crooks are aimed at the sensitive data stored on the server - for personal use or sale. This category of hackers usually chooses servers as their primary targets since they can find much different information. After the successful hacking, a cyber burglar attempts to sell the data on the Darknet. Sometimes, attacks targeted on valuable data are complemented with malware injection - for an additional ransom payment.

What is their motivation?

The primary motivation of any burglar is money and sometimes - fame. But, of course, it is a pretty stupid idea to hack the server of a specific corporation just to become famous (and to be captured by cyber police). That’s why the majority of hackers aim at the most valuable thing - information. After the successful attack, they may receive a lot of money as a ransom to avoid publishing the stolen data or selling this information on the Darknet.

As mentioned at the beginning of this post, sometimes hackers are hired by corporations for security systems testing. In these cases, they are paid by companies as they were standard employees. They may use any tool they want - in real life. No one can restrict hackers from using something practical and brutal. However, such testing is pretty efficient, especially when the hired hackers have extensive practical knowledge.

Finally, some hackers act in someone’s interest. For example, they may hunt for some private data or inflate some governmental systems’ work. Such targets are never chosen by the hackers themselves - the consequences are too dangerous, and selling the leaked information may call the interest of executive authorities. Involving the result of the election, for example, does not generate any money interest for the stand-alone hacker - if no one pays them for this, he will receive no profit, but massive attention from the FBI, for example.