For years, "hacker" was a positive term that described computer enthusiasts who had a zeal for computer programming. Those who hacked took pride in their ability to write computer programs that stretched the capabilities of computer systems and find clever solutions to seemingly impossible problems. Although many computer enthusiasts still ascribe to this definition, the everyday usage of the word has changed significantly. Today, "hacking" generally refers to individuals who break into computer systems or use their programming skills or expert knowledge to act maliciously. (Traditional hackersthe good kindprefer to use the term "cracker" to refer to these individuals.)
Some of the most common types of hacking include:
Breaking into computer networks;
Bypassing passwords or copy protection in computer software; Defacing and/or damaging Internet web sites;
Causing a denial of service attack on a web site or network (preventing legitimate users from accessing a web site); Stealing valuable information such as passwords and credit card data.
A Systematic Process
Although portrayed otherwise in Hollywood films and in television shows, hacking is a systematic, tiresome process in which the attacker attempts methodically to locate computer systems, identify their vulnerabilities, and then compromise those vulnerabilities to obtain access. Experts have identified six steps that are generally followed in the hacking process. These include (1) footprinting (reconnaissance); (2) scanning; (3) enumeration; (4) penetration; (5) advance; and (6) covering tracks.
The first technique often used by hackers is called footprinting. The objective is to gather information essential to an attack and enable an attacker to obtain a complete profile of an organization's security posture. During this phase, the hacker might gain information about the location of the company, phone numbers, employee names, security policies, and the overall layout...
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