How Does Hacking Really Work?

I am proud to say that I am a hacker. Just the other day I was faced with a teeth gritting dilemma, and solved it with my superhero like hacking skills. A document would not open in Office, because Office would not recognise the format. So, drawing on my powers of deduction, I renamed the document to a format that Word would recognise. Since the two formats had virtually no difference between them, the file opened without an issue. Problem solved, look at my enormous brain.

Yes, I make things happen on computers in round about ways, which is the definition of what a hacker is. Modern movies and series have given many people the impression that “hacking” is some sort of magical skill, requiring that a person have; a) a pair of spectacles, b) be socially awkward, c) be able to slam away at their keyboard with ten fingers, and, d) talk in utterly stupid IT jargon, because it is somehow a demonstration of their boundless knowledge. I dare say that anyone using dialect that is not common in the English language is a bit of an idiot, not especially smart. Unless not being understood by other sentient beings makes you smart somehow.

“Hack The Planet”

Now I, honestly, am not much of a hacker. I can’t crack an online casino server, because that is just about impossible, if not completely impossible. I also can’t hack casino games so I can win more often (yes I’ve thought about it) And I can’t really steal data from other computers, unless it involves me tricking the person into giving me access. And, I’m sorry to inform fans of the popular cult film Hackers, hack the planet and all that, deception is really mostly what modern “hacking” is all about. Breaking through security honestly is just about impossible in modern times.

You may have heard via news, or other means, about a company having data stolen from their servers. This is rare, to such an extent that it makes the news, and is generally the result of there having been some rather embarrassing mistakes on the part of a person, not on the part of a security system.

But this is not to say that there not people capable of making some pretty skilful attacks on security systems, just that it takes so much expertise that a person capable of doing such things is likely being employed to make security systems, and is not wasting their time trying fruitlessly to crack them. In reality, cyber theft happens because people are fooled into handing over information, or are tricked into installing a programme that gives access to others.

Deceit Over Cracking

A person claiming to be from Microsoft once called a friend of mine. They insisted that he install a programme on his computer, because he had some security breach that they needed to fix. He did not, thankfully, but this is a pretty good example of modern hacking. You’ll notice the lack of anyone clattering away at a keyboard, having glasses, or using idiotic IT jargon.

It is jarring that installing a single small programme is all that is required to hand over your system to another, but really, I think most are smart enough to not take advice from a random person over the phone. Especially one claiming to be from Microsoft. If I got a call from a Microsoft employee, I would change my Facebook status to; this just in; pigs really do fly.

But phone calls are far easier to see through. It is the sneaky emails that are really the risk in modern times. A file opened on an email can install programmes on a system, and do so in lightening fast time. Modern email systems have all sorts of security systems, but a file not identified as a threat can slip through, and wreak all sorts of havoc. Since people do a great deal of business via email these days, including myself, so such an attack is far more difficult to identify than it used to be. I’m sure I don’t have to tell you to not open files from unknown sources, but I just did.

How Would I Hack A Casino Server?

So lets say, hypothetically, that I was paid a million dollars to hack a casino server. First, I would have to establish communication with someone at the online casino headquarters. Then I would attempt to locate a lady of some sort who works for them, and seduce her via a series of erotic, steamy emails. Once text seduced, I would bamboozle her into installing a programme on the casino servers, which granted me access. And, viola, money would flow to me like salmon in mating season.

Not really. Online casino servers are monitored 24 hours a day, and only incredibly skilled IT experts have access to them at all. The only way I could do that is if I physically went to the server, with a gun, and forced a technician to give me access. Sadly, someone might catch on.

Marc Armstrong - Signature

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