Friday, March 8, 2013

A Layman's Idea of Hacking

When I was in Class 11, a friend of mine showed me a cool trick to invert the desktop of a computer just by pressing some keys in the keyboard. It was Ctrl+Alt+(Down Arrow). I was amazed as I had never seen anything like that.   At that time, we were siting in the school computer lab, and it got me thinking about all the cool things that can be done with computers. I started searching online for computer tricks, pranks and hacks, hoping  to annoy and amaze my friends at the same time. That was what got me started into the world of hacking.
Due to our heavy influence of  movies we think of hackers as computer geniuses who can hack  WiFi passwords, Traffic cameras,  NSA or FBI servers, emails, websites, all with just a few clicks of the mouse or keyboard. Hackers are also thought to be able to derail trains, sink ships or launch nuclear missiles. Although many of these things are possible in real life, Hollywood has made it look far too easy. In the real world, hacking involves a lot of steps and techniques which requires you to have extensive knowledge and experience with computer systems.

People tend to think of hackers as evil geniuses or high-tech criminals. That may be partly true, but those who use their skills for malicious purposes are  'crackers'.  A hacker is someone who is adaptable to any environment and tweak systems to make things better or more convenient.  

There is a big misconception about teenage hackers. The movies portray teenage hackers and the media hypes them. If a teenager manages to 'hack' a website, he comes to the limelight and is portrayed as a prodigy.  I'm saying as a teenager myself. The fact is that the website was hacked not because of the teenager's skill, but because of the website owner's carelessness in properly implementing security procedures. Majority of hacking attacks happen due to the programmer or  system administrator's ignorance of security. I'm not saying that there are no prodigies. I'm saying that majority of teen hackers are script kiddies who know a particular hacking trick or technique and got lucky.

Hacking is not a crime if you have the permissions to hack. Professional hackers are called Penetration Testers or Pen Testers. They are hired by companies and  governments to hack their systems to 'test' how secure they are. And it is a pretty cool job too. Getting paid to hack. Hackers are very normal people, not someone sitting in a dark basement with a computer and wires dangling all around.  Anyone can become a hacker, provided he has the determination and perseverance. 


  1. Great post. Starting points for beginners?

  2. Thanks. I will write another article for beginners.