How hackers attack your PC
MODERN computer hacking relies on the
same basic technology that millions of people use every day -- the Internet.
Thanks to the huge numbers of computers that are online, hackers are able to use a
series of simple steps to sneak access to
The starting point is to find out which
computers it is possible to attack. Every
machine connected to the Net has a unique
address to which the hacker can send messages.
Depending on the response they get, criminals are able to identify
computers that may be more susceptible to hacking.
Usually they simply conduct a wide sweep of addresses in order to find a
likely looking machine to focus their efforts on.
Once a target has been picked out, the hackers will then start the
process of breaking in. Sometimes this will involve a "brute
force attack" - using a code-breaking
program to try to crack the machine's
In other cases, the hacker will use an
existing flaw in the computer's software to
trick their way inside the computer system.
Most of the software used for hacking is
available to download free from the
Some of the more complex or sinister
tools are bought from unpublicized websites or swapped on discussion forums;
hardcore hackers will write their own programs to exploit new weaknesses
they have found, known as "zero-day" flaws.
But many incidents of so-called "cyber-warfare" do not involve hacking
into the target systems. Instead they are aimed at bringing the critical
systems to a halt, and often involve demanding a ransom.
In these situations, hackers use their techniques to infect and gain
control of thousands, or even millions, of home computers, before turning them all towards the
target system simultaneously.
The sudden surge in traffic is often
enough to overwhelm the victim and bring
it down, in what is known as a "denial of