The Risks and Dangers of Computer Hacking Essay

Computer hackers become more intelligent every day. Companies attempt to make technology hacker-free, which is not plausible. All this does is provide the hacker with more assentive to figure out how to get around it. The growth of technology causes new threats and new problems. The consequences hackers face can be extremely severe, or minimal if lucky. Many “elite” hackers get off with minimum consequences such as probation. Sometimes, on rare occasions, if the hacker is skilled enough, the FBI will drop their sentence as long as they agree to work undercover for them.

Hackers thrive for a challenge; many of them hack just to see if they can actually achieve it. In today’s society, people are becoming more and more reliant on technology, causing the hacker industry to rise. Despite “professional” opinions, every piece of technology has a weak point. Computer hacking in many individuals start at an early age and seems like innocent fun. As the hacker gets older, they realize it has turned from a little fun into a horrible addiction.

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A computer hacker is defined as “a person who enjoys exploring the details of programmable systems and how to stretch their capabilities, as opposed to most users, who prefer to learn the minimum necessary” (Stone, 1999). To a hacker, the internet is a playing field. Computer hacking is a game to which it is their mind against the system. The internet is their tool to gain access to passwords, files, programs, and other valuable information. In addition, all hackers are linked in some way even if they never meet face to face. Hackers tend to cooperate to take down websites, companies, etc. hich makes them harder to track. Today’s society believes that every hacker is a “bad” hacker. The media has distorted the word “hacker,” to assume that all hackers want to steal data, deface websites, and exploit important information. In fact, there are three different kinds of hackers; white hat hackers, black hat hackers, and script kiddies. The white hat hackers, or “ethical” hackers, are actually opposed to abusing computers. They are the ones who try to secure systems instead of break them. Sometimes, they break into systems to alert the owners and make them aware of their security flaws.

Likewise, a black hat hacker is someone who compromises the security of a computer without permission, normally with malicious intent. Usually, these types of hackers use their knowledge of technology to exploit the vulnerabilities of computer systems for personal use, instead of revealing it to the public or the manufacturer. Many black hat hackers hack web pages for financial gain, stealing credit card numbers, bank account numbers, etc. In some cases, black hats cause extreme damage and/or make threats over the internet (“Cyber laws india,” 2007).

Next, a script kiddie is a hacker, usually somewhat amateur, who compromises files on others’ computers or sends out attacks on computer systems, using widely distributed computer programs or scripts instead of their own. With the addition of more computer security programs, it’s making the task of script kiddies far more difficult, causing them to evolve and discover ways to get around them (McFly, 2011) Kevin Mitnick, a “computer terrorist,” was one of the most dangerous hackers of all time. Mitnick was arrested in 1988 and was denied bond.

While he was in the constraints of the Lompac, California jail, he was not allowed to use a telephone except to call his wife. They compared giving a telephone to Kevin was like giving a gun to a hit man. After a sentence for the Pacific Bell incident where he stole computer manuals, he was able to alter his credit information and removed his probation officer’s number from the case. Also, he removed the records of his crimes from police computers. Kevin Mitnick definitely has a rather large computer crime record (Judson, 1994). Next, Mitnick illegally accessed the Nation Security Agency’s gateway to the internet.

He called a legitimate user and acted like a technician who was issuing new passwords and was able to retrieve user’s ID and passwords. He stole millions of dollars of software from MCI and Digital Equipment. In 1992, the FBI came to question Mitnick about parole violations and he simply disappeared. In 1993, Kevin was wiretapping calls from the FBI to the California DMV to gain entry into the driver’s license database. December 25, 1994, he broke into a computer owned by an expert at computer security, Tsutomu Shimomura, who began tracking him leading to his arrest in February of 1995.

When they seized his computer, they found twenty-five thousand credit card numbers. Mitnick ended up being incarcerated for a very long time. Thus, leading to hacker groups protesting, and the “Free Kevin” movement began. A hacker group called PANTS/HAGIS hacked yahoo and changed the site to say that they planted a virus that would infect any computer that visited this webpage. The virus was supposed to go off on Christmas Day if Mitnick remained in jail. In turn, there was no actual virus (Knittel & Soto, 2000). Another well known hacker is Kevin Poulsen.

Many people consider him to be a hacking prodigy. His childhood consisted of juvenile fun and learning more about technology and the way it works. The deeper he dived into hacking, the closer he got to the dark side. His exploits caused the fist ever espionage case against a computer hacker. A previous colleague of Kevin stated, “Kevin is extremely good at software and brave at taking chances. Kevin was a 24-houra- day hacker. ” He was breaking into the government and military’s systems. He was so specialized at this task that the defense industry offered him a job as a security-cleared consultant.

His main objective was to test the integrity of the Pentagon security systems. Kevin had two separate lives; during the day he was a “white hat” and focused on hacking to improve government security, at night, he was a “black hat,” and hacked for personal gain and his obtrusions became more and more criminal. The government finally discovered his second life and he was charged with 19 counts of fraud, conspiracy, money laundering, and wiretapping. These charges would of placed him in jail for 37 years, so he took off. After the escape he hacked into the Pacific Bell’s giant switching networks to exploit their computers.

A well known radio station in Los Angeles held a “Win a Porsche by Friday” contest if you were the 102nd caller after a sequence of songs. Kevin was able to seize full control of all the telephone lines, blocking out all calls and with ease, he was the 102nd caller and received his Porsche. In addition to all of these crimes, he wiretapped intimate phone calls of Hollywood actresses with the intention of blackmailing. He stole military orders and cracked an army computer. The FBI finally caught up with him and he was sentenced to 51 months in jail and $56,000 in restitution (“Cybercrime: Piercing the,”).

When it comes to computer hacking consequences there are many subcategories of computer crime: Computer Fraud, Offensive Content, Harassment, Drug Trafficking, and many others. Computer crime can “broadly be defined as criminal activity involving an information technology infrastructure, including illegal access, illegal interception, data interference, systems interference, misuse of devices, forgery, and electronic fraud” (“Cyber laws india,” 2007). A common example of computer crime is when an individual intends to steal information or cause damage to a computer with the use of a computer.

The consequences can be extreme or seem very moderate. For instance, a member of anonymous, Jonathan James, gained illegal access into NASA’s website stealing $1. 7 million in software and was only sentenced to six months in jail. Believe it or not, hackers actually have their own ethics. These ethics are primarily enforced by 90s white hat hackers. The violations that go against their ethics include bootlegging, freeloading, trashing, excessive selfishness, the anti-stealing ethic, bragging, spying, and narcing. As always, there are ethical and unethical hackers.

As you have probably heard throughout the news and the internet, many hackers do not abide by these ethics, primarily the black hat hackers. Hackers live by four main rules: keep a low profile, if suspected, keep a lower profile, if accused, deny it, if caught, plea the 5th(Mizrach). Hackers use a variety of tools and resources from the internet to hack. Telnet, for example, is a tool used to access a shell on another computer instead of the victims. Instead, it uses their server and identity to reduce the chance of getting caught.

The ways hackers crack into a system include: cracking the password using a crack program which guesses all different combinations to retrieve the password, finding backdoors in the computer system which are flaws in the system making it vulnerable for entry, or using a program called WORM. What this software does is continually try to break into a system at over a 100 times per second until it’s cracked and the program is executed. This program has many specialities such as getting password files, deleting files, and whatever the hacker intends to do. (Raymond, 2001). People elieve that passwords make their email, computer account, and any other accounts safe. However, what they don’t realize is it makes it twice as accessible. With the use of password cracking programs, you can basically obtain any password within a matter of minutes. Another fundamental of hacking is learning how to program. Once you have learned to code, you need to install another operative system such as Unix. Other operating systems are programmed in binary making it nearly impossible to read. Therefore, you can’t modify it. Once you run Unix, learn it, read the codes, modify them and just tinker with it (Raymond, 2001).

Another cause of security breaches is that most companies do not inform their clients of certain security issues. For every company that does warn their clients, there are ten companies that do not (Conway/Cordingley, 2). One very effective tactic to protect yourself from being hacked is to use a firewall. A firewall allows any authorized access to enter the system while blocking any unauthorized access. This is a very common way to stop hackers from breaching your system, but as always, there can be bugs or it can be broken, allowing hackers into the system.

With the use of the internet, a hacker can gain access to any computer in the world while maintaining undetected. The Anonymous hacker group is a widely organized group of hacker-activists intending to protest basic human rights violations such as freedom of speech. Anonymous has been around for a while but recently revealed themselves when the government threatened to censor the internet. They performed numerous invents over the internet getting people to join their cause. Many websites shut down on certain days to protest the censorship. Anonymous released many threats against the government.

Also, they have successfully slowed and brought down many websites including: Visa, Paypal, Mastercard, Bank of America, Amazon, Sony, United States governmental pages and many other government’s websites, and numerous others. Obviously, Anonymous is composed of a large variety of skilled hackers. However, their leader has been caught and is supposably working for the FBI helping track down others. On the other hand, they are still hacking and will not stop until caught. PBS Frontline performed an interview with anonymous. “What is it about the computer that makes it become such an obsession for young guys? Anonymous responded: “Well, it’s power at your fingertips. You can control all these computers from the government, from the military, from large corporations. And if you know what you’re doing, you can travel through the internet at your will, with no restrictions.

That’s power; it’s a power trip. ” They also stated that everybody loves to have control. The interviewee, Jonathan James, was the one who hacked into NASA and illegally downloaded $1. 7 million in software. The only reason he downloaded it was because he was studying C programming (Anonymous). As technology grows, the acking population increases. For some people hacking is just a hobby to pass the time. To others it is a job pushed upon them by government bureaus, and for all hackers it is an opportunity to show how powerful and how much control one has. Hacking is unfortunately an obsession that never completely leaves you. Technology always has its vulnerabilities and with the substantial growth of technology, the hacking industry constantly expands. The software we depend on every day can be hacked at any given time, or someone could be watching what we are doing for the fun of it (Erickson). You can have the best security software in the world, but a hacker will always be one step ahead.

Works Cited

Anonymous. (n. d. ). [Web Based Recording]. Anonymous. Hackers, Georgia. , Retrieved from http://www. pbs. org/wgbh/pages/frontline/shows/hackers/interviews/anon. html “Computer Hackers. ” World of Forensic Science. 2005. Encyclopedia. com. 10 Apr. 2012 <http:// www. encyclopedia. com>. Conway, Richard, and Julian Cordingley. CODE HACKING: A Developer’s Guide to Network Security. Ed. James Walsh. Massachusetts: Charles River Media, INC, 2004. Print. Cybercrime: Piercing the darkness. n. d. ). Retrieved from http://library. thinkquest. org/04oct/ 00460/poulsen. html Cyber laws india. (2007). Retrieved from http://www. cyberlawsindia. net/index. html Erickson, Jon. Hacking : The Art of Exploitation. San Francisco, CA, USA: No Starch Press, Incorporated, 2003. Web. Judson, K. (1994). Computer crime: Phreaks, spies, and salami slicers. Springfield: Enslow Publishers INC. Knittel, J. , ; Soto, M. (2000). The dangers of computer hacking. New York, NY: The Rosen Publishing Group, Inc. McFly, M. (2011, January 17). The dangerous evolution of the script kiddie.

Retrieved from http://backtosecurity. com/the-dangerous-evolution-of-the-script-kiddie/ Mizrach, S. (n. d. ). Old and new hacker ethics. Retrieved from http://www2. fiu. edu/~mizrachs/ hackethic. html Raymond, E. (2001). How to become a hacker. Retrieved from http://www. catb. org/~esr/faqs/ hacker-howto. html Stone, D. (1999, March 07). Computer hacking. Retrieved April 10, 2012 from http:// www. ed. uiuc. edu/wp/crime/hacking. htm The top ten famous hackers of all time. (1996). Retrieved from http://www. itsecurity. com/ features/top-10-famous-hackers-042407/