Hacking as a criminal act is on the rise. As our world becomes ever more interconnected, and the Internet of Things sees all devices open to networks and communication, the risks become more real. The opportunity to hack increases, too, as more and more of what we own has the ability to be exploited. We have become a generation and economy that thrives on information and data, turning it effectively into a currency. In the same way, that highwaymen would hold up coaches with a gun, and crooks would rob banks with the same, we now have criminals who can hide weaponless behind a keyboard, for more gain than ever before.
There are a number of reasons why criminals hack, of course. The overriding theme, though, is that it is for personal gain. Once you understand the motivation, it becomes easier to accept the risks and protect in the right places. There are, of course, those who hack in the name of good, but we aren’t here to discuss the ethical side of hacking. In this post, our focus is on those with more despicable intentions.
People most commonly associate hacking with financial gain. Either individually, or as a group, criminals can target users in a number of ways to get a financial advantage. This can range from installing malware on a computer to gain password access to bank accounts, to tricking users into sharing the same sensitive information by posing as a reputable organisation. In terms of businesses, it can also mean hacking databases to collect client credit card data too.
Even if the information that a hacker gathers isn’t valuable in itself, criminals can still find a monetary benefit. Ransomware is the perfect example. In this instance, a hacker will gain access to a network and then restrict the owner from gaining entry. They will then blackmail the user into paying them money in order to release the computer. It is important to remember that people pay a great deal of money to buy data as well. By selling on the contact details they secure, hackers can also gain an income.
Originally, hacking occurred due to curiosity. Hackers will have tested their skills to see where they could breach and how they could do it. That curiosity will have evolved once the benefits of hacking, and in some cases, the ease became more obvious. When hacking into a network, it is possible to use its power yourself. You can take advantage of their data allowance, for example, or gain access to webcams.
More and more common, though, is that people are finding backlinks to pornography sites written into the code of their websites. These manufactured links are a helpful SEO tool for the hacker, but of course, link the user directly to something they may find quite distasteful.
It is true that some individuals simply want to cause chaos. The reasons for this again fall under a number of different categories. Some consider hacking fun. It is a test of their skill and ability to manipulate someone’s life completely undetected. They have little concern for the damage they are causing, simply seeing the process as a game.
A more targeted approach can be taken by companies who are looking to keep a competitor out of action. If your biggest rival is left reeling from a breach of data, or an attack on their system, then they aren’t concentrating on beating you. You have the advantage; they have the bill.
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