Recent media attention has once again reminded us that hackers are still around despite the high-security systems that are in existence. While recent hackers have gone all the way and infiltrate systems (some of the most complex and sensitive websites and data centers), most hackers are just curious programmers who want to explore the world of computers. Here, I highlight some of the techniques hackers use to gain access to unauthorized systems.

Computer Code

Most hackers are programmers and apart from writing and using their own computer code, they will also go online and download program code that is known to exploit a known vulnerability in a system. There are also known programs that test and crack websites and other programs and these are also freely available online.

Logging Keystrokes

Some programs which are also freely available online allow a hacker to monitor each keystroke on a computer system and therefore record usernames and passwords. All a hacker needs to do is disguise the program as a helpful computer application and once the user installs it, it secretly records his or her keystrokes and sends them via the internet to the hacker. The hacker can then use the collected credentials to steal your identity.

Password Hacking

Some programs allow hackers to generate passwords using simple algorithms. Every possible combination of numbers, letters and symbols can be tried at a very fast speed using either a brute force attack or a dictionary attack. The former uses a trial and error method to attack a system while the latter inserts commonly-used words and combinations into the password field.

Virus and Trojan Horses

A computer virus can be written and released online either via email or on known download sites. Once it infects a system it can send back information to the hacker about the internal structure of a system and alert the hacker to possible intrusion points that are unsecured or with a known vulnerability.

Trojan Horses are known to search for unsecured pathways to a network system making it possible for a hacker to access a system without even the need for a username and a password. This is called backdoor access and is one of the most effective ways of infiltrating a computer or a network.

Zombie Computers

Once a hacker gains access to a computer system, he or she can use the compromised system, now a zombie computer, to launch what is called a Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attack. Zombie computers are used to infiltrate systems for spam or attack other computer systems. One of the most common and effective attacks is to spam a system with continuous data until it goes down.

Thousands of hackers are active online on any given day, always looking and testing systems for vulnerabilities. Keep your system secure at all times to avoid being the next victim.

P.S. Don’t forget to use a VPN or other hide IP tool to protect yourself while browsing!