How does a hacker work? (pt. 2)

SUMMARY: Ed Wilson continues his discussion of hackers by looking at motivation.

Yesterday I looked at hackers who engage in their activities because they want to learn how things work. Today I want to look at another motivation for hacking – fun. A lot of hackers, particularly younger hackers, engage in their activities simply for the fun of it. There is an element of adventure, and the purpose is to break into a system, and to leave some sign that they have been there. Often, they have a hacker alias, and they work hard to enhance the reputation of that hacker alias.

These types of hackers are often called Script Kiddies because they do not write their own tools, and instead rely upon tools developed by others. They collect exploits that are published on the Internet via various usenet groups, or forums and they try to replicate the results achieved by others. They often pick up an advanced understanding of the ways that computers work, and especially the way that common security systems work, as they work at circumventing those common safeguards.

A few years ago, it was common to hack into a web site, and modify the default web page in some way that indicated the site had been compromised. These sorts of hacks are becoming more rare as web administrators learn how to apply security settings to prevent such attacks.

Common goals of Script Kiddies

Nowadays, the Script Kiddie is more interested in doing some of the following types of activities:

  • Obtaining free Internet access by cracking Wireless passwords
  • Obtaining free file storage by creating file shares on weakly secured systems
  • Setting up free file sharing for Movies, Music, Software, and Book files on weakly secured systems
  • Obtaining free copies of Movies, Music, Software, and E-Book files by cracking Copy-Protection put in place by the various Media companies
  • Obtaining free software by cracking the license verification protection placed on it by various software companies
  • Obtaining complete working copies of shareware software by obtaining working registration numbers that unlock the software
  • Obtaining cheat codes for various computer games (including console games such as XBOX ONE) to enable the player to gain access to advanced features of the game without having to work through all of the levels. Or to obtain massive amounts of experience points (or in game currency) to enable one to purchase upgrades for games.

These are obviously generalities, but if you are writing about a young hacker these would certainly be decent motivation and goals for your character. Pre-Teen hackers do not reprogram spy satellites, access NSA databases, or assume remote control of killer military drones. But they might very well have access to a file share that contains thousands of pirated movies (many of which have dozens of Oriental language subtitles).

Have a great day.

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