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Kiss Me, Kill Me Tuesday – The Basics of Hacking

Today I have a special guest with me! James Mowery is a computer geek who writes about technology and related topics. James is here today to offer us some insights into the Basics of Hacking. To read more blog posts by James, please visit him at www.laptopcomputers.org

Without further ado, here’s James!


Hacking is a rapidly lost art in this world. While the reports of cybercrime are on the rise, these very rarely involve hacking of any kind, but rather the simple exploitation of a system’s owner through duplicity and the use of a script that the ‘hacker’ didn’t actually assemble themselves. These unscrupulous individuals, also known as ‘script kiddies’, are not truly hackers, but rather the web’s equivalent of cowardly bullies too afraid to take an actual swing at their target.

Hacking takes three primary traits: knowledge of computer systems, knowledge of networking, and raw chutzpah.

The rudiments of hacking hark back to the days of telephone modems and analog distance communication; previously, phase-shifted dial tones were used to duplicate and deceive phone companies, allowing for free long-distance calls to be made. In one larger assault, Pacific Bell’s clocks were shifted twelve hours, allowing everyone on their more common plans to use the much cheaper night rate for their daytime calls.

Now, hacking revolves around manipulation of data taken in to create a desired result. An example of this is perhaps the most basic means by which to seize control of a website: the buffer overflow. Many systems are not unlike any liquid vessel; there is finite room. The data can be thought of as liquid. Buffer overflow attacks involve inputting so much data into an open, unsecured field on a site that the data actually overflows past the memory and is forced to execute. If the attack is being done with proper code, this code will actually be injected into the system, allowing the hacker to commandeer it, damage it, or anything else.

Wirelessly, hackers should be aware of packets. Packets are the bits of data sent by computer systems to each other. They are often encrypted little nuggets of data that will make no rational sense to anyone simply viewing them raw, even if they are decrypted. However, packets can often contain private information that hackers can use for purposes of identity theft. A patient hacker can intercept many of these packets over time, and begin to decrypt them in batches. Once the encryption is broken through this method, they can begin to send packets of their own, once again burying their own code to be executed.

Hacking is an art finding itself lost, but these two basic techniques open the doors to the rest of it, for any willing to experiment and experience it.


Thank you, James! We appreciate you taking the time to visit with us and share your knowledge of hacking.