Most hackers break into computers not to wreak havoc, but simply to explore and share information with one another. A small minority, however, do wish to create mischief. These individuals are the ones who have the public fearing hackers. They are genuinely responsible for the Media calling hackers criminals. These individuals and gangs purposely break into computers for personal financial gain, or to turn your six thousand dollar state of the art computer into a six thousand dollar paperweight. A hacker via RoadRunner can easily glide into an unprotected PC.
There; they can potentially get credit card numbers and other valuable goodies. “Instead of thinking ‘criminal’ or ‘vandal’ when hearing the word hacker, we want the public to think of ‘knowledge seekers’ and ‘curious wanderers’. ” 3 “Destruction and unethical ignorance has plagued the underground too long, let’s bring back the old school ways of creation and system penetrating for the knowledge that it is holding, not for the destruction of that knowledge nor the possessors of it. ”
A stereotype that is casually applied to a hacker, is that they are geeks, doofs and nerds. They have few or no friends and spend the majority of their time in front of their computers. In actuality a hacker could be a CEO of a multinational, or the person sitting next to you on the subway. Obviously there are some things all hackers have in common. All are able to do advanced calculations in math, are well versed in computer languages, and have a good grasp of their Native language. They must have a state of the art computer that they know inside and out.
They also have access to, or knowledge of secret codes and computer languages. Hackers have many tools in their “toolbox” for breaking into computers. An example of this is a Password Sniffer. This is a program, which is secretly hidden on a network. The sniffer is programmed to record, in a secret file, logos and passwords. In the span of a week, these tiny, planted programs can record hundreds of user names and code words and their associated passwords. This information is then sent back to the hacker.
Last year an advisory from Carnegie Mellon University’s Computer Emergency Response Team warned that, because of a rash of sniffing attacks, tens of thousands of passwords had been stolen and were presumed to be compromised. 4 Another tool a hacker has is a technique not a program or device. It is called Spoofing. The hacker must attempt to gain the highest level of access that a particular computer can give. From inside the computer the hacker can place a hidden program which will give him/her a “back door” allowing the hacker free access into the computer whenever he or she desires.
One viable future method of prevention, which is constantly being improved upon is the “dongle. ” It was devised and developed by Bell Labs. The “dongle” is a “calculator-sized machine”, which gives a new password to the user every time he or she logs onto the Internet. 4 Personal Encryption devices turn normal text into a series of illegible words and codes. These devices would protect your personal computer from any outside intruder who wouldn’t want to spend their time breaking down your information. Though, eventually hackers would want to be able to break those codes.
It still is an important stride in the right direction. An annoying, and time-consuming idea is encrypting all transmissions from computer to computer. One thing is for sure, all these devices will not keep a determined hacker out of a system, and these defenses won’t be cheap to buy. It will be a constant battle in the future. Unless people take responsibility into there own hands to protect themselves from prying eyes, their lives can and will be intruded upon. We can take precautions with current software like “Black Ice”, and many more, and surely many more to come following those.