What is Hacking?
Hacking—Definition, Types, Security, and More
A commonly used hacking definition is the act of compromising digital devices and networks through unauthorized access to an account or computer system. Hacking is not always a malicious act, but it is most commonly associated with illegal activity and data theft by cyber criminals.
Hacking refers to the misuse of devices like computers, smartphones, tablets, and networks to cause damage to or corrupt systems, gather information on users, steal data and documents, or disrupt data-related activity.
A traditional view of hackers is a lone rogue programmer who is highly skilled in coding and modifying computer software and hardware systems. But this narrow view does not cover the true technical nature of hacking. Hackers are increasingly growing in sophistication, using stealthy attack methods designed to go completely unnoticed by cybersecurity software and IT teams. They are also highly skilled in creating attack vectors that trick users into opening malicious attachments or links and freely giving up their sensitive personal data.
As a result, modern-day hacking involves far more than just an angry kid in their bedroom. It is a multibillion-dollar industry with extremely sophisticated and successful techniques.
History of Hacking/Hackers
Hacking first appeared as a term in the 1970s but became more popular through the next decade. An article in a 1980 edition of Psychology Today ran the headline “The Hacker Papers” in an exploration of computer usage's addictive nature. Two years later, two movies, Tron and WarGames, were released, in which the lead characters set about hacking into computer systems, which introduced the concept of hacking to a wide audience and as a potential national security risk.
Sure enough, later that year, a group of teenagers cracked the computer systems of major organizations like Los Alamos National Laboratory, Security Pacific Bank, and Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center. A Newsweek article covering the event became the first to use the word “hacker” in the negative light it now holds.
This event also led Congress to pass several bills around computer crimes, but that did not stop the number of high-profile attacks on corporate and government systems. Of course, the concept of hacking has spiraled with the release of the public internet, which has led to far more opportunities and more lucrative rewards for hacking activity. This saw techniques evolve and increase in sophistication and gave birth to a wide range of types of hacking and hackers.