It goes without saying that the world today runs on computer systems. Now on one hand there are computer users and on the other there are computer hackers. Hackers are always finding ways to exploit weaknesses and vulnerabilities in the system so they can break in and do their malicious or criminal things. Lately the focus has shifted from hacking individuals to hacking organizational systems. This is because organizations are more lucrative targets.
There are different approaches to hacking into a computer.
This is where the hacker uses a program that is designed to infiltrate your system. Malware can be in the form of:
- Viruses which are designed to install into the host’s system and cause damage to the system. Every computer user has encountered a virus at least once. Viruses are spread easily through shared files and replicate quickly.
- Spyware which is designed to collect information from the target system to the hacker’s system. Unlike a virus, spyware does not need to install itself into the target system. Rather, it only requires access to the data and data logs.
- Worms are like viruses that they replicate fast and can be spread easily but they do not need to install into the target system. Worms are mainly used to create vulnerabilities to allow the hacker to launch bigger attacks.
The password attack seeks to gain rightful entry into the target system through a legitimate password. The aim therefore is to gain access to the user’s password, and that is done through two approaches.
- The brute force attack which is carried out by using all possible combinations of letters, numbers and symbols until the right match is found. A brute force attack requires specific tools as well as strong computer resources. The success of the attack depends largely on the complexity of the password, and therefore the best protection against this attack is having strong passwords.
- The dictionary attack uses combinations of different words to try and find a match for the password. Unlike the brute force attack, the dictionary attack does not go trying all combinations but rather guesses the password from a list of common passwords. Like the brute force attack, the best defense is a string password.
Denial of Service attack
The DoS attack aims at making the target system inaccessible to legitimate system users. This attack is launched with the aim of crippling the target system and is therefore a malicious attack. DoS attacks are executed by flooding the target system with traffic that their servers cannot handle. This causes the system to fail or crash.
Essentially, therefore, hackers either seek to compromise the password, install malicious code or the network. To deter them, strong passwords are required. This is especially so for password attacks. Special software for detecting and disabling malicious code also helps, such as anti-virus software.