Cyber attacks, various threats, attempts to target users of the internet and IoT devices. We hear about it all the time in the news. But the question that few people are asking is: Who is behind these attacks? What do they want?
Fifteen to twenty years ago, it may have been enough to say that hackers hack for the fun of it without delving further into the issues. Hacking poses a unique type of challenge. However, now uses for the internet have increased exponentially from the days of its conception.
With it, reasons and motivations of hackers on the web are also growing. The ‘for the fun of it’ explanation is no longer enough; the reality is far too complex. People turn to hacking for a variety of financial, political, and ideological reasons.
The widespread use of networks and connectivity makes attacks increasingly easy to execute and harder to prevent. While these tools make our lives easier, they are also creating more of a risk. A hacker only needs to find one hole to get in, but you need to block all of them to keep a hacker out.
Many people don’t think they would make an appealing target to a hacker. It is dangerous and comes from a fundamental misunderstanding of why hackers hack. Hackers can use you as a launching pad to access larger, more lucrative networks. Use this list to help you understand and protect yourself from being a victim of hacking.
1. Hacking as a hobby
The first reason that hackers hack, and the most obvious reason that people talk about, is for fun, for the adrenaline rush. It can be an addicting hobby for some to see if they can outsmart government and corporate IT and security. It provides instant gratification. Some hackers aim for the bigger, more challenging targets, such as major corporations.
Others infiltrate any system. Even those systems that are “low hanging fruit” with little protection become targets. Just to be able to say that they can, such as home wifi networks. These types of hackers can engage in everything from website vandalism to webcam hacking.
2. Hacking to steal
Internet banking is relatively new. There has been an incredible growth in popularity within the last 10-15 years. As online banking becomes more and more convenient, more people rely on their online accounts. They access them from personal computers, work computers, smartphones, tablets, the possibilities are endless. Thus, the potential for monetary gain through hacking has also increased.
Hackers can reach their goal of infiltrating your finances in a few different ways. A hacker can install malware to collect sensitive information, for example.
It would do something like allow the hacker to see every key that is selected when the user is typing in their passwords, etc. It can also be done through phishing or hacking into databases via Trojan Horse.
3. Hacking to bring a site down
Hackers can create a botnet and then overwhelm a system with traffic. They infect a network of private computers with malicious software which can then be used for a variety of different purposes- without the user’s knowledge.
It is known as a DoS attack and can put a company’s website out of service for a while. It can be used as a tool to send a message or to eliminate competition within an industry.
4. Hacking to leak information
Some hackers use their ability to access and spread secretive information. This is another way to undermine rivaling businesses. Hackers can engage in corporate espionage, undermining their rival’s success by publishing company secrets. It can also apply to those trying to expose governments and organizations.
An example of this was the Ashley Madison scandal when hackers were able to get their hands on thousands of user highly sensitive information. It caused an uproar as users feared that their identity would be shared with the world, which in this case, it soon was.
5. Hacking with political motive
Sometimes, hacking is executed by vigilante groups who are trying to raise awareness about a political issue or just to create chaos. Other times, it is in the form of international threats such as foreign governments or militaries aiming to undermine their enemies. This type of hacking is typically kept out of the realm of public knowledge. Those who hack with a political agenda use the similar tactics to other groups. For example, they may choose methods such as politically driven website vandalism, information leakage, or DoS attacks.
6. Idealism or Hacktivism
When caught, hackers justify their actions as being altruistic. They aim to expose an injustice. Their goal is to stick it to the “man,” which is especially popular during difficult political or economic conditions. A high-profile example of this is the shadowy group known as Anonymous, which came into the public eye around 2008, in the context of Occupy Wall Street. These hackers can target religious groups, governments, movements, to promote a particular agenda.
7. Security reasons
Sometimes, hackers will hack into a system to catch holes in security before someone else does. The justification for this is to prevent any harmful attacks in the future by showing the world how vulnerable our devices are to hacks. IoT devices are becoming more and more common, but they are not equipped with proper security to keep hackers out. They act as an entry point for hackers into a network of devices with critical information. As IoT devices become a bigger part of our lives, hacking becomes a more significant threat.