Legal Dictionary

hacking

Legal Definition of hacking

Related terms


Definition of hacking

Verb

hacking

  1. Present participle of hack.

Noun

hacking (uncountable)

  1. (computing) Playful solving of technical work that requires deep understanding, especially of a computer system.

    From hacker: "A person who delights in having an intimate understanding of the internal workings of a system, computers and computer networks in particular." - RFC 1392

  2. (computing) Unauthorized attempts to bypass the security mechanisms of an information system or network.

Further reading

Hacking means finding out weaknesses in an established system and exploiting them. A computer hacker is a person who finds out weaknesses in the computer and exploits it. Hackers may be motivated by a multitude of reasons, such as profit, protest, or challenge. The subculture that has evolved around hackers is often referred to as the computer underground but it is now an open community. While other uses of the word hacker exist that are not related to computer security, they are rarely used in mainstream context. They are subject to the long standing hacker definition controversy about the true meaning of the term hacker. In this controversy, the term hacker is reclaimed by computer programmers who argue that someone breaking into computers is better called a cracker, not making a difference between computer criminals (black hats) and computer security experts (white hats). Some white hat hackers claim that they also deserve the title hacker, and that only black hats should be called crackers.

Hacker attitudes

Several subgroups of the computer underground with different attitudes and aims use different terms to demarcate themselves from each other, or try to exclude some specific group with which they do not agree. Eric S. Raymond (author of The New Hacker's Dictionary) advocates that members of the computer underground should be called crackers. Yet, those people see themselves as hackers and even try to include the views of Raymond in what they see as one wider hacker culture, a view harshly rejected by Raymond himself. Instead of a hacker/cracker dichotomy, they give more emphasis to a spectrum of different categories, such as white hat, grey hat, black hat and script kiddie. In contrast to Raymond, they usually reserve the term cracker. According to (Clifford R.D. 2006) a cracker or cracking is to "gain unauthorized access to a computer in order to commit another crime such as destroying information contained in that system". These subgroups may also be defined by the legal status of their activities.

- White hat

A white hat hacker breaks security for non-malicious reasons, for instance testing their own security system.The term "white hat" in Internet slang refers to an ethical hacker. This classification also includes individuals who perform penetration tests and vulnerability assessments within a contractual agreement. Often, this type of 'white hat' hacker is called an ethical hacker. The International Council of Electronic Commerce Consultants, also known as the EC-Council has developed certifications, courseware, classes, and online training covering the diverse arena of Ethical Hacking.

- Black hat

A Black Hat Hacker is a hacker who "violates computer security for little reason beyond maliciousness or for personal gain"(Moore,2005). Black Hat Hackers are "the epitome of all that the public fears in a computer criminal". Black Hat Hackers break into secure networks to destroy data or make the network unusable for those who are authorized to use the network. The way Black Hat Hackers choose the networks that they are going to break into is by a process that can be broken down into two parts. This is called the pre-hacking stage.

    Part 1 Targeting
    Targeting is when the hacker determines what network to break into. The target may be of particular interest to the hacker, or the hacker may "Port Scan" a network to determine if it is vulnerable to attacks. A port is defined as "an opening through which the computer receives data via the network". Open ports will allow a hacker to access the system.
    Part 2 Research and Information Gathering
    It is in this stage that the hacker will visit or contact the target in some way in hopes of finding out vital information that will help them access the system. The main way that hackers get desired results from this stage is from Social Engineering, which will be explained below. Aside from Social Engineering hackers can also use a technique called Dumpster Diving. Dumpster Diving is when a hacker will literally dive into a dumpster in hopes to find documents that users have thrown away, which may contain information a hacker can use directly or indirectly, to help them gain access to a network.

- Grey hat

A grey hat hacker is a combination of a Black Hat and a White Hat Hacker. A Grey Hat Hacker may surf the internet and hack into a computer system for the sole purpose of notifying the administrator that their system has been hacked, for example. Then they may offer to repair their system for a small fee.

- Elite hacker

A social status among hackers, elite is used to describe the most skilled. Newly discovered exploits will circulate among these hackers. Elite groups such as Masters of Deception conferred a kind of credibility on their members.

- Script kiddie

A script kiddie(or skiddie) is a non-expert who breaks into computer systems by using pre-packaged automated tools written by others, usually with little understanding of the underlying concept-hence the term script (i.e. a prearranged plan or set of activities) kiddie (i.e. kid, child-an individual lacking knowledge and experience, immature).

- Neophyte

A neophyte, "n00b", or "newbie" is someone who is new to hacking or phreaking and has almost no knowledge or experience of the workings of technology, and hacking.

- Blue hat

A blue hat hacker is someone outside computer security consulting firms who is used to bug test a system prior to its launch, looking for exploits so they can be closed. Microsoft also uses the term BlueHat to represent a series of security briefing events.

- Hacktivist

A hacktivist is a hacker who utilizes technology to announce a social, ideological, religious, or political message. In general, most hacktivism involves website defacement or denial-of-service attacks.

References:

  1. Wiktionary. Published under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.



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