Its the 90’s, the dawn of the computer age. With technology changing and evolving everyday, it may seem hard not to slip behind in this ever changing world. The Information Super-Highway has been following computers throughout the past few years. Along with the Internet, an emerging group of elite cyber-surfers have turned into today’s computer hackers. Most people don’t know about them, most people don’t know they exist, but they are out there, lurking in the shadows, waiting for there next victim. It can be a scary world out there (Welcome to the Internet).
In reality it is not nearly as bad as it sounds, and chances are it won’t happen to you. There are many fields of hacking on the Internet. The most popular type of hacking is software piracy. “According to estimates by the US Software Piracy Association, as much as $7. 5 billion of American software may be illegally copied and distributed annually worldwide”(Ferrell13). Hackers “pirate” software merely by uploading software bought in a store to the Internet. Uploading is send information from point A(client) to point B(host); downloading is the opposite.
Once it is uploaded to the Internet, people all over the world have access to it. From there, hackers trade and distribute the software, which in hacker jargon is warez[AO1]. Industrial Espionage is another main concern on the Internet. Most recently, the FBI’s World Wide Web page hacked and turned into a racial hate page. Anyone can access files from a WWW page, but changing them is very hard. That is why most hackers don’t even bother with it. CNET stated “This Web site should have been among the safest and most secure in the world, yet late in 1996, it got hacked. “(Ferrell18).
To change a web page, hackers simply upload a new, modified version of the web page, in place of the original. But fortunately, almost all Internet Service Providers (ISP), the computer you dial to for Internet access, have protection called a firewall, which kicks off all users trying to gain access of change information that are not authorized. “Theft and destruction of company files is increasing faster than the ability to stop it”(Rothfeder170). Another field of hacking on the Internet is Electronic-mail hacking. A hacker can intercept Email enroute and read it with no detection.
To safeguard this, companies use encryption programs and no one but the sender and its recipient can read it(Rothfeder225). A mail bomb is another type hack on the Net. “A mail bomb is simply an attack unleashed by dumping hundreds or thousands of Email messages onto a specific address”(Ferrell20). The only way to fix this problem is to either sit there and delete each message one by one, or to call you Internet Service Provider for help. Email forgery is also common. A hacker can change the return address on any given piece of Email to anything they want, such as [email protected] com.
This is illegal because you can use someone else’s address to send false Email to people. Oracle Systems CEO Larry Ellison fell victim to forgery when a former employee accused him of sexual harassment and used a forged email message to help plead her case. And Bob Rae, the former premier of Ontario, suffered political embarrassment as a result of a forged and sexually explicit email that appeared on Usenet newsgroups. False or assumed email identities have played a part in espionage, as well. Forged email was the key to Clifford Stoll’s cracking of a spy ring, recounted in his book The Cuckoo’s Egg (Ferrell4)
On the Internet, credit card fraud is also common. Perhaps the most occurring is the ability to create false accounts on America OnLine. At one point, more than 70% of America OnLine users were using fake credit card numbers. The scary part is, that almost none of them were caught. Other people send pyramid schemes and chain letters to people by the thousands. These GET RICK QUICK!!! schemes are illegal scams designed to get your money (Ferrell10). Yet another fraud on the Net is the selling of carded merchandise.
Although is it not common, people take real credit cards numbers and by expensive electronics by phone and then sell them on the Internet for extremely low prices. “The US Secret Service believes that half a billion dollars may be lost annually by consumers who have credit card and calling card numbers stolen from online databases”(Ferrell10). When companies talk about Network Breaches, they mean that someone has gotten a login and corresponding password to the company’s information. Citibank was hacked and had $11 million stolen by a Russian hacker (Rothfeder170).
Once the hacker gets administrative access, that are free to get important, maybe even secret information from the company. They can also destroy the data or implant viruses (see below) sometimes costing companies millions of dollars a year. “Even at secure companies, a single motivated person could attack the machines of a large organization”(Rothfeder180). Another concern is online banking. It allows people to exchange information, mostly money, to and from bank accounts. “At this point, prospective customers have no way of knowing which banks can be trusted with Internet accounts.
Just because a bank is well know, don’t assume its security is air tight”(Rothfeder229). Hackers can use tools such as password sniffers which locks onto an Internet dweller’s IP address (Internet Protocol Address, it is that person’s identity online) and records the information being sent by their computer. Thus the hacker gets the password. Once this is accomplished, they use another tool called an IP spoofer. This tool will fool other computers that you connect to on Internet into thinking the hacker has some else’s IP address, making them that person.
In a sense, it changes your identity. The hacker, now with the password and with an identity change, logs on the remote World Wide Web page and modifies it to his desire. Or he can steel information only accessible through the password such as credit card information, important or secret information, or he could simply cause havoc to that person or company. Computer viruses are not colds for computers. They are destructive time bombs waiting to destroy a computer’s data. They usually attack the most common and the more important files on computers and deletes them.
Unfortunately they are very easy to get, especially on the Internet, and they are not always detectable. On the other hand, 99% percent of viruses can be detected by using an anti-virus program. Hackers often make there own viruses disguised as real programs. Viruses are also can be attached to Email messages. The Internet has many good things about it. But with all good things comes the downside of humanity. Child pornography is unfortunately easily available on the Net. As many people know, the federal courts are now in the process of determining what you are allowed to post on the Internet.
Apocalypticly, all of the tools and programs mentioned in this document are very common on the Net and can be downloaded 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and anyone can get them. Go to your favorite search engine on the Internet and type in hacking, pictures, bombs, anarchy, warez, or cracking for your query and you will find millions of documents with everything a hacker would need, all just a click away. It can be a scary world out there and if you are willing to except both the good and bad then, Welcome to the Internet.