Griffin Graffix - DDoS attacks & the world of hacking

What is hacking and why you need to keep your computer and websites clean

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Today, hacking is not limited to attacking companies or specific individuals. If that’s what you thought it was, it’s about time you learned some facts about hacking. The short movie: Rivolta: Inside the Mind of Canada’s Most Notorious Hacker below should be quite the eye opener for many of you.

It’s widely believed that malicious programs (often called computer viruses) only aim to destroy the data on your computer or worse yet corrupt it or delete it. That is a fallacy of great proportions and a very dangerous one, although there are certain types of attacks that aim to take your computer hostage for ransom, but that is a subject for another day.

Allow me to open a window for you into what real hackers really do, how they do it and why.

First, all hackers hack for different reasons; some hack for the hell of it, some for profit, some to get even or hurt someone, a company or government they are against, but many hack to get in to your system and control it for when they’ll need it later for a bigger attack on a bigger fish. This is the one I want to bring your attention to because this is a very common type of attack, through hundreds of thousands of individual machines all over the world.

The aim is to hack into enough computers, websites or networks and gain administrator privileges to run operations from behind the installation and gain control to create yet an even bigger botnet of such power that it can bring the internet world to a screeching halt all over the world at once. Did I confuse you?

Ok, let’s start from the beginning…

The reason behind many “computer viruses”…

isn’t to destroy your data at all, it’s to install hidden programs that are run by hackers from their own lair without you even knowing about it. They sit at home, and through the programs they installed on your computer with the virus, they control many things on your computer and mainly, these are hidden programs that you don’t know are running and that usually have something to do with connecting to the internet as they use these programs to make your computer do things on the web you don’t know you are doing.

Why install hidden programs?

Once these programs are installed on what the hacker deems a sufficient amount of computers for his given task, he is ready for a larger scale attack. For instance, they will call upon hundreds or even thousands of individual computers or networks (yours and others), that happen to be online at the time, for which they have control of and make them all go visit a certain website all at once and repeatedly. This is what we call a DDoS attack.

What is a DDoS attack?

A distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attack is one in which a multitude of compromised systems attack a single target, thereby causing denial of service for users of the targeted system. The flood of incoming data to the target system essentially crashes the system, thereby denying service to legitimate internet users.

In a typical DDoS attack, a hacker (or, if you prefer, cracker) begins by exploiting a vulnerability in one computer system and making it the DDoS master. It is from the master system that the intruder identifies and communicates with other systems that can be compromised. The intruder loads cracking tools available on the Internet on multiple — sometimes thousands of — compromised systems. With a single command, the intruder instructs the controlled machines to launch one of many flood attacks against a specified target. The inundation of packets to the target causes a denial of service.

Why is a DDoS attack so scary?

One of the concerns of an attack like this is that the hackers/crackers may be using relatively weak botnet of home PCs in order to build a much larger botnet on very powerful servers (such as hosting servers or large company networks) in preparation for a future, much larger and more damaging attack. These larger server machines can cause much more damage in a DDoS attack because the servers have large network connections and are capable of generating significant amounts of traffic.

You’re starting to see the picture aren’t you?

How can I get infected?

Your computer may get a virus or injected with malware or spyware by:

  • simply browsing the Internet – an Internet advertisement or window appears that says your computer is infected or that a unique plug-in is required. Without fully understanding what it is you’re getting, you accept the prompt
  • some websites that are not maintained properly can get hacked & have malicious code secretly inserted into their sites, thus infecting the computers of unsuspecting online visitors. Some websites can even be specifically designed for the unique purpose of injecting programs into computers
  • clicking on links in emails or opening email attachments
  • downloading any software (programs, utilities, games, updates, demos, etc.) via the Internet – to avoid this, make sure you’re downloading the software from a reliable source
  • inserting or connecting an infected disk, disc, or drive such as flash drive (usb)
  • not keeping your OS (operating system) & programs up to date
  • pirating software, music, or movies
  • not having an antivirus spyware scanner

So now, why is it important to have a good anti-virus, keeping both the program & virus definitions up to date, scanning your computers regularly and immediately if you suspect an infection at all? You guessed it… because an infection on your computer can generate much more damage to many others all over the world which ultimately can bring the internet down all together, or be used to attack anyone or anything on the web. You think I’m exaggerating? I wish I was, and the proof is right here in the following video.

Online security is more important now than ever… keep yourself informed, keep your computers secure and happy surfing.