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May 20, 2016updated 22 Sep 2016 12:02pm

How to hack

A basic guide to some of the skills you might need to start hacking.

By Alexander Sword

There are a range of systems that a hacker can attempt to get into and a range of reasons for doing so.

Hacking as a term is used extremely broadly but generally means exploiting weaknesses in a system to gain access.

Some hackers might be hacktivists, who try to hack into companies or websites to prove a point or to embarrass the victim. Others hack to steal data for financial gain, while a third category of ‘White Hat’ hackers try to expose flaws in the defences of organisations to prevent them from being attacked by a malicious actor.

Whatever the reason, hacking is not a simple process and requires a considerable investment of time and possibly money.

Basic skills to learn include knowledge of programming languages and networking concepts, as well as a good knowledge of Linux.

A strong understanding of typical cyber security measures such as firewalls will be key. There is plenty of online material available to learn these basic skills.

For more determined hackers, eventually this will have to extend to more advanced skills such as scripting.

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However, there are tools available even for those who don’t want to learn the more advanced techniques. It is possible to find pre-written code to deploy on the internet.

Hackers will also have to consider hardware; a powerful PC and possibly a large bandwidth internet connection may be required for certain types of attacks.

With these skills and equipment covered, a hacker’s next step is to work out what kind of attack would accomplish the goal they are looking to achieve.

For example, if they are after data, an SQL injection is what they would go for. This is used to dump the contents of an online database to an attacker.

If it is simply an attack for an attack’s sake, a distributed denial of service (DDoS) attack can be used to shut down a website by overloading it with traffic so that the servers cannot handle it.

Another technique is to develop malware that can gain access to systems, which might be a good way of gathering data.

With all of these techniques, whatever the intention, it is worth bearing in mind that an attack without consent, regardless of how the data is used, could be punishable as a crime under the Computer Misuse Act.



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