Crime is something that will never vanish from this planet. It’s simple. There are those who are always looking to steal people’s hard-earned money and do nothing else in life. This can be said both for the ‘old-school’ crooks and the ‘online’ criminals, or in other words, hackers.
Top Common Hacking Techniques Used by Professionals
Almost everyone who can use a computer and has Internet connection nowadays has heard about hackers and their peculiar ways of stealing someone’s info, money, and passwords. Even though things aren’t exactly like they’re portrayed in the TV show Mr. Robot, you will be amazed by the fact that some of these common techniques are simple and easy to understand. However, that should never lure you in to try and hack something yourself. Take a look.
You’ve probably heard about phishing. This one has been around for some time now, but it’s still one of the most ‘popular’ hacking techniques around. It’s even fair to say that you probably know someone who was a victim of this ‘method.’ Maybe even you clicked the wrong link once too.
The concept is quite simple here. Hackers lure users into clicking on something that isn’t a link towards what they were looking for. It’s a well-designed bait that infects the computer with malware. It’s simple and effective, and a lot of pros use it regularly to scam people. However, the most popular ‘medium’ for this scam is e-mail. That is how phishing is carried out most of the time.
Most often, you would get an e-mail from a ‘reputable’ bank or something similar where you’d be asked for personal info, or you’d need to download the attachment. Once you click on the link or download the attachment and open it, you’re done. You got tricked, and now your computer is infected by malware. The worst case scenario would be when someone actually shares personal information such as credit card data and then get robbed of all their money. Unfortunately, phishing attacks are quite common, and they can be dangerous if you’re not paying attention to every detail.
This is probably one of the oldest ‘tricks’ in the book, but it’s still worth a mention. Brute forcing involves trying different combinations and permutations of characters from a particular set. In layman’s terms, a hacker will use a program that will test all the combinations for a certain length (trial and error) and once the hacker cracks that, they then move on to the next length. For example, the program tries characters such as A–Z or 0–9, and even the special characters for the first length. The password most likely won’t match, so the program will move on and try the next combination. Fortunately, this technique is almost extinct online, but the case is not the same when it comes to the ‘offline’ world. This type of attack isn’t as common as it used to be, but it’s one of the ‘most popular’ ones since it was used so heavily in the past.
Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS)
DDoS attacks are frequent today. You will learn why that’s the case from an example. Say you’re hungry and you want to go to a restaurant to eat. You go out and arrive there only to realize that all tables are taken. However, the folks occupying them are just sitting there and doing nothing. What does that mean? That means that you won’t eat there anytime soon and that the owner isn’t making any profit. In this story, you are the typical user, the restaurant is the occupied web server, and the folks that won’t let you eat are the hackers.
Hackers rely on a network of computers they have hijacked using a malware of some kind, and they then send too many requests to an IP address. In turn, that causes these servers to get so overwhelmed with requests that they just shut down, and thus, get cut off from the Internet. As you could see so far, there were no magical malicious code techniques or hacking ways you see in the movies where a person easily figures out how to hack online casino games and amass a huge fortune or breaks into the KGB servers. But there are some more ‘sophisticated’ hacking methods, so keep reading.
No, no one is breaking into your house and stealing your cookies from the kitchen table. The cookies mentioned here are the ones you have on almost every website in the world. They are used to identify, authenticate, or remember a user from the tons of other users online. When a hacker steals your cookies, they actually import them to their browser. You can probably guess that the next time they open a particular site, the site will think that it’s you and not them. Voila, there you go, that’s successful identity theft. A hacker didn’t even have to create a fake profile or anything like that. They just stole your cookies. Remember, you have to keep them in a safe place. There are many malicious people out there that will steal them and do all kinds of things under your name.
Man in the Middle (MITM)
These types of hacking attacks can cause a lot of damage. As the name suggests, a hacker intercepts and edits data that circulates online. In layman’s terms, an intermediary device (hacker’s device) handles all requests that are moved from the user to a server. A hacker can replace your downloaded file with any other data or redirect you to other websites if they wish. They can also see your browsing and typing history and connect to your phone if you have any ports open. MITM usually happens in places where there is a wireless access point. So when you sit down to have a cup of coffee at your favorite café, you should bear in mind that the Wi-Fi there might not be free of charge. Avoid sensitive websites in public Wi-Fi zones to remain safe from the MITM hackers. Also, be aware that there are often fake wireless access points (fake WAPs), and once you connect to them, it’s over. So avoid sketchy names and things that seem too good to be true.
Setting up botnets can be costly. That’s why this method isn’t too common. On the other hand, using botnets to launch attacks is good since these can execute more sophisticated attacks. A botnet is a number of Internet-connected devices which are all running one or more bots. Botnets are often used to perform distributed denial of service attacks (DDoS attack). However, they can also be used for data theft, spamming, and personal information theft. However, there are also ways to use botnets for good purposes. Unfortunately, botnets are generally employed in a destructive and harmful way. That’s why they are considered to be malware.
Trojans — you’ve probably heard of them. It seems like they will never get old. A virus considered to be trojan is a kind of malware that provides hackers access to other malware programs once it gets installed on a system. Yes, that’s how your dad got that malicious software, but you didn’t realize that until it was too late. Trojans get installed on a system along with some other software, and they can then send data from it. Antivirus companies even create some Trojans with the aim of slowing down system performances. Sounds crazy, right? Well, it’s true.
SQL injection is a process used by hackers where they hack the database of a server by typing SQL queries in the input forms of particular websites. The queries in question are specially designed to access data that may or may not be accessible to the hacker any other way. Fortunately enough, there are PDO and MySQL connectors which repel these attacks. Thanks to these, SQL injection rates have decreased considerably. However, folks that use old MySQL connectors are still in danger.
You’ve seen the list, and you probably realize now how careful you need to be when you’re online. You never know what you can expect when you connect to a Wi-Fi or just reply to an e-mail from a mysterious sender. So be careful, criminals are active both offline and online, and they are always figuring out new ways of harming people.