We live in the time and era of over dependence on computer networks for uses that range from most frivolous, like entertainment, chit chat and other leisure time activities to the most critical, intimate and sensitive kinds like business expansions, personal relationships, financial management, governance, you name it.
Demystifying Hackers and Hacking
Everything in the world of computers is driven by pieces of code called programs, written by programmers. A hacker too is a programmer. White hat hackers are people who know the innards of the world of computers but have no intentions of misusing their skills. They help audit computer networks to detect loop holes in security. But if you ask them,
Who is a hacker and what it takes to become one?
they’ll tell you that a hacker is different from a regular programmer, more or less, only in the amount of time he is willing to put in to write a piece of code.
While a programmer writes code because it’s his job, a hacker does it because of reasons that are far more personal. The different in efficiency and elegance, therefore, of two pieces of code, one written by a regular programmer, another by a professional hacker can be liken to the difference between an obese sedentary office bearer who takes the conventional modes of elevators, roads, staircases to get from point A to B; and a lean, light footed free runner who takes the shortest route possible.
Hacking Today Is Easy
Most of the security issues we face today are due to the fact that not every hacker is a white hat hacker. The fact that even the field of hacking has undergone an evolution of sorts with many tools and applications available freely today that require no or little skill on user’s part, has compounded the situations as all you need now is a mischievous kid on computers with time on his hand and you’ll end up looking at all sorts of security breaches.
Today most of the security breaches have kids and teenagers behind them, who use tools like spoofers and sniffers. If not nipped in the bud they go on to become cyber criminals who use phishing sites and organized cyber attacks to inflict far more sinister damages on the victims.
What Is Spoofing
Spoofing is a process by which a person or a program can impersonate another. This can happen in a lot of ways, like for an example you might be holding a long chatting session with your buddy, but there may be another person in between you and your buddy who is controlling the conversation and relaying your messages. This attack is called man-in-the-middle attack for obvious reasons and is done in environments where extra precautions are often not taken to authenticate the identity of users.
Spoofing is also done by spammers who use it to hide the sender’s real information so as to avoid being caught by anti spamming software.
What Is Packet Sniffing
Packet analyzing is another technique also knows as packet sniffing, which is used to analyze the data being transferred over network. Earlier this used to be done by network engineers only for general upkeep the networks, but such tools are being used by professional and hobbyist hackers to gain access to sensitive information like login details.
What Is Phishing
Then come out right cyber criminals who have only one intention that is to gain access to your financial data and sweep your bank account clean or harass you by playing with your personal data. They create phishing sites, which are fake sites created in order to look exactly like other important sites. If you are not careful, you might end up entering your bank username and password on a site that’s actually not your banks site but looks exactly the same. You might end up entering personal information on a fake social network site, this information can later be used to enact a bigger con to harass you in all sorts of ways.
Network Security A Big Concern
Network security thus is one of the bigger, if not the biggest concerns for mankind today and it is not so much about having the right kind of security gear in the corporate houses and at home, as it is about staying alert and aware. To have all the security measures in place is a must but even then, you can still be lured by a fake social buddy on a perfectly secure social network just like you can be conned by a peddler of fake products on the street.
Keeping your security information, usernames and passwords etc., to yourself, not letting your networks, be it home or corporate network, be accessed for usage by outsiders; if it’s a Wi-Fi, keeping its range confined to the premises of your house or office by using directional antennas; not blindly trusting whatever or whoever you see on the net and keeping yourself educated and aware about the latest in the field of security are some of the measures you can take to participate in mankind’s much needed collective stance towards staying secure and safe during our stay on computer networks.