UNDERSTANDING HACKING TODAY
Hacking is the act of compromising data, systems and networks through unauthorised access from a user account or computer. Hackers often infiltrate a system by phishing or hijacking to illegitimately access sensitive data.
Hackers are often associated with code-savvy cybercriminals that act alone to wreak havoc on a company’s IT infrastructure. However, today’s hackers could be operating on commission in sophisticated arrangements, that could be infiltrating systems without detection until it is too late.
HACKING IS NOT ALL BLACK AND WHITE
While hacking can lead to catastrophic consequences for businesses, believe it or not, it is not always bad. Three categories of hackers are commonly known today. These include:
BLACK HAT HACKERS
They hack a system or network with malicious intent. Whether they hack for monetary gain, espionage or notoriety, they typically inflict damage to their victims and organisations that they work for.
WHITE HAT HACKERS
These are typically seen as the ‘good guys’ that organisations hire to help test and identify potential vulnerabilities in their security defences. By using their skills, they carry out ‘ethical hacking’ to test the strength of defence against black hat hackers. This allows them to be reinforced where necessary.
GREY HAT HACKERS
While they don’t hack with the intention to directly harm any individual or organisation, they hack systems with the intention to raise awareness that a vulnerability exists. This encourages individuals and organisations to act swiftly to protect themselves as well as raise awareness of the vulnerability to black hat hackers. This gives them another opportunity to exploit a system before it is reinforced.
PRELIMINARY PROTECTION FROM HACKERS
Today, cybercriminals and hackers are more relentless than ever before. Businesses stand to benefit by speaking with a cybersecurity specialist that will provide services tailored to their specific needs. However, an organisation’s personnel and mindful actions can be one of the most powerful first lines of defence against hackers.
Some basic security guidelines to follow:
- If the email seems suspicious, do not click on the link or attachment. Report the event to the organisation’s IT team immediately.
- Ensure external storage drives (eg. thumb drives, mobile devices, hard disks) are authorised and scanned before running them.
- Maintain good password hygiene – help users to create and manage passwords that are harder to guess
- Any software downloads must be authorised by the security team and downloaded from legitimate websites.