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So, how do hackers hack? Hackers use a variety of techniques to achieve their aims. Some of the most common methods include:

Social engineering

Social engineering is a manipulation technique designed to exploit human error to gain access to personal information. Using a fake identity and various psychological tricks, hackers can deceive you into disclosing personal or financial information. They may rely on phishing scams, spam emails or instant messages, or even fake websites to achieve this.

Hacking passwords

Hackers use different ways to obtain passwords. The trial and error method is known as a brute force attack, which involves hackers trying to guess every possible combination to gain access. Hackers may also use simple algorithms to generate different combinations for letters, numbers, and symbols to help them identify password combinations. Another technique is known as a dictionary attack, which is a program that inserts common words into password fields to see if one works.

Infecting devices with malware

Hackers may infiltrate a user’s device to install malware. More likely, they will target potential victims via email, instant messages and websites with downloadable content or peer-to-peer networks.

Exploiting insecure wireless networks

Rather than using malicious code to infiltrate someone’s computer, hackers may simply take advantage of open wireless networks. Not everyone secures their router, and this can be exploited by hackers driving around looking for open, unsecured wireless connection. This is an activity known as wardriving. Once hackers are connected to the unsecured network, they only need to bypass basic security to gain access to devices connected to that network.

Gaining backdoor access

Hackers may create programs that search for unprotected pathways into network systems and computers. Hackers may gain backdoor access by infecting a computer or system with a Trojan horse, created by hackers to acquire and steal important data without the victim noticing.

Spying on emails

Hackers can create code which allows them to intercept and read emails. Most email programs today use encryption formulas which mean that even if hackers intercept a message, they can't read it.

Logging keystrokes

Some programs allow hackers to track every keystroke a computer user makes. Once installed on a victim's computer, the programs record each keystroke, giving the hacker everything they need to infiltrate a system or steal someone’s identity.

Creating zombie computers

A zombie computer, or bot, is a computer that a hacker can use to send spam or commit Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks. After a victim executes a seemingly innocent code, a connection opens between their computer and the hacker's system. The hacker can then secretly control the victim’s computer, using it to commit crimes or spread spam.

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