It is indeed very funny how life can be. One man’s trash is another man’s treasure, one man’s food is another man’s poison, and also one man’s glance is another man’s glare. I will dwell on the last paradox.
To the primitive, you, looking at a computer involves giving it a simple glance; yet to the ‘hacker’, you, looking at a computer should be a rather complicated look.
Maybe the aim is ‘shoulder browsing’ for a password on that desktop’s sticky note, or rather trying to identify the physical topology/layout of the network of which the computer is part.
So being a hacker is that complicated? Yes, it is. So complicated that a modern-day hacker is indeed a hero.
Maybe you thought that hacking is just a matter of opening some app, clicking a few buttons and then pressing that ‘enter’ button and ‘kaboom!!!’, you are inside the CIA database.
“But that’s what Hollywood says,” so you might claim. If you thought so, then I will not disappoint you. Just visit Hollywood. There, you can hack your secret government statehouse CCTV cameras with just the press of a button. Maybe you might finally discover funny conspiracies that your president and his colleagues usually discuss :)
But if you have the balls to face this so-called reality, then welcome to Talwork, and please continue and finish reading this article. Here I will burst the myth of who a hacker is and who is not, and above all, I will help you become the real-life Edward Snowden and/or Anonymous.
Who is a hacker?
In the computer and Internet world, a hacker is anyone who can identify the weakness of a computer infrastructure, gain access to the same, and exploit the same to achieve his own intended goal.
Yet the term hacking can be used even in a broader sense to mean anyone/any bot who/that can identify a weakness (not the so obvious ones) in an infrastructure (anything conceivable and exists in nature) and exploit that weakness to meet their own intended goals.
Say, for example, if you are a government official who can exploit the needs of his subjects (like the need for food and then award them $(USD) 1 for the same) so that you might be re-elected, then you are a hacker attacking the human infrastructure.
If you can make electronic components do what they were not intended to do, like using a T.V remote control to interfere with radio signals for telephone communication, then that is electronic hacking.
But forgetting all these, we are just interested in computer hacking, so our definition is limited to the first. As you might have already felt, for you to do all these, you must possess an immense amount of information about the infrastructure to identify the weakness.
How else can you say that a man has a weakness for courting ladies unless you know pretty much about courtship and the role of a man in the same, right?
Types of hackers
In the computer world, there are generally five types of hackers; the white hat hacker, the grey hat hacker, the black hat hacker, the hacktivist, and the script kiddie. They are discussed below in detail. This knowledge is of immense importance for a newbie, for before you set out on a journey, you must have at least a little knowledge of where you are going and who you might just become after that journey, else, just stay indoors.
White hat hacker.
Also called ethical hackers, they are the good guys. They have the immense knowledge to hack into many computer infrastructures and make them do wonders that favour them, but instead, they choose to follow the law of the land. Therefore their actions are within the dictates of the law.
If they are to hack into a system, they must first inform the owners of their intended action, or the owner might just invite them to do the hacking.
Wow!! They are the so-called hackers, yet their knowledge levels often equal that of white hacks. It’s just that they operate under a different flag.
They are the bad guys. They can make an aeroplane fall on you, or they can blow up that nuclear plant of your country if and when they decide to do so.
Alright, in their simplicity of behaviour, they can withdraw money from your smart card without having physical access to it.
Grey hat hackers.
Come day, and they are the white hats, the peace-loving; come night, they are helping you spend your money without permission.
They are the wolves in sheep’s clothing.
They are the new type of hackers who use their skills to penetrate a computer system or network driven by a social, political, humanitarian, or religious agenda.
Hacktivists, often in groups, hijack websites, social media accounts, and other platforms to send messages.
The term ‘script kiddie’ refers to an unskilled person who uses hacking tools available on the Internet to penetrate a computer or network system. It can also refer to a skilled hacker who uses pre-written code or scripts to do the dirty work.
The long journey begins.
Many aspiring hackers have googled this one question repeatedly: “how do I become a hacker?”
To help answer your question, a hacker is among one of the most skilled information technology experts, and therefore it requires a wide knowledge of IT technologies and techniques.
If you truly desire to be a hacker, then you must possess a wide range of these IT skills unless you want to be a script kiddie.
Below, I will discuss these various skills and where possible, I will direct you to a few resources that I found to be good on the same.
One doesn’t have to be discouraged once he sets out to do something, and for sure, you might take at least 3years to master all of these skills before you even begin hacking.
Be patient, for it pays a lot. Differential changes make up a total derivative.
The fundamental skills
Basic computer skills
Let not the term ‘basic’ misdirect you. When I say basic, I don’t mean browsing the Internet, using Microsoft Word, paint, or just folder management.
Uh-Oh, you need to understand the computer’s logical organization, like the main motherboard components, the various forms of computer memories and how one can tinker with them.
You need to understand the command line interface, edit the registry and things of the sort. There is always a way to learn all this in one nice course. That is CompTIA’s A+ course, or better still, if you take the time to learn assembly language programming, your computer functionality knowledge will certainly increase.
Computer networking skills
A hacker is like a ghost in the wire, but it will be so unfortunate that you are travelling in a wire whose properties are unknown to you.
A hacker MUST know what an internet protocol (IP) address is and, the various versions and their implementations like IPv4 and IPv6, what a Media access control (MAC) address is.
These are the extreme basic. Other sub-disciplines include The TCI/IP protocol stack, where you will learn all the layers of the TCP/IP stack, which protocols are in each layer, and which technologies function at which layer. You have to know that a Network interface card (NIC) like that Wi-Fi or Ethernet card of yours is found at layer 1 (the physical layer).
You must know what DNS, VPNs, VLANs, and ARP mean. You can rush to platforms such as Udemy and learn about this TCP/IP stack or take a course like CCNA either from CISCO’s official site (for approximately $150 USD) or for free at Cybrary It. The choice is yours. You can’t be a hacker who can't even differentiate HTTP from its secure version, HTTPS!!
Released in 2013, kali Linux is the only tool worldwide that houses a wide range of most tools a hacker would need. But most of these tools require you to interact with them using a command line interface (CLI).
They are not Window’s graphical user interface-based applications. Plus, nearly all the tools developed for hackers are developed for Linux, so you need to have this skill.
As you learn to be a hacker, 90% of your studies have to be practicals, but a newbie should not dare to hack a friend’s computer unless they know what they are doing, else your friend's computer might just freeze on your watch, yet you were simply trying to impress them.
You can download them, install your hacker OS(Linux) in them and then install your vulnerable OS like Metasploitable or some windows in the same, then warmly hack.
The only way to evade the roadblocks put in place by the security admins is to understand how the same operate. Better still, you want to hack your neighbour’s Wi-Fi, but you don’t know what WPA2 means, let alone that he uses it.
You must understand what PKI, SSL, IDS, firewall, and antivirus mean.
Windows Defender is a firewall, while Avast is an antivirus that some nowadays have firewall packages (paid, of course). One contains the other functionalities.
Just google for computer security books or free courses online and learn the same.
To be able to hack wireless networks, you need to understand how it works.
Concepts like the encryption algorithms (WEP, WPA, WPA2), the four-way handshake, WPS, connection and authentication protocols must be at your fingertips.
You can purchase the book Hacking exposed: wireless technologies to begin your journey.
The intermediate skills
From here, you will start to feel your inner hacking character begin to develop, just like Lukas of the famous medical forensic series “forever. “
Scripting and programming skills
If you need to develop your own hacking tools, you must know how to write the programs.
unless you want to use the already available tools, but this will extremely limit your hacking capabilities because even the security admins already know the signatures (behaviour) of these existent tools and programs hence they will easily spot a thief.
You can learn Perl scripting, BASH, Windows PowerShell, and last but not least, Metasploit.
For programming, most computer viruses are written in Assembly language, for this language is so close to the hardware that it can mishandle/hack the same appropriately.
Most hacking cases involve entering a database and gaining the information packages available there.
You have heard of leaked passwords, serious hacking tools from the CIA like the WannaCry, unleashed to the unsuspecting public, and a fraudulent bank-to-bank wireless money transfer. All these entail hacking into the respective databases.
Therefore, it is necessary to know how databases work and manipulate them. You must learn Structured Query Language (SQL, often pronounced ‘Sequel ’) language. Just run to W3Schools and enjoy your time.
Mastery of Database management systems (DBMS) like SQL Server, Oracle, MySQL, Mongo DB, etc., is also necessary.
Web applications and web development
You don’t have to know all six or more languages for web development, but basic knowledge of HTML and one scripting language is an added advantage. Better still, web applications are probably the most fertile ground for hackers. The more you understand how they work and the databases behind them, the more successful you will be.
It is the science of secret communication. Although not a requirement for you to be a beginning hacker, the more you understand the strengths and weaknesses of these algorithms, the better your chances of defeating them.
Plus, you can use them to hide your activities and evade detection. A nice free course is available at cybrary.
The ability to open something (especially malicious software) and rebuilt it with additional features and capabilities is a very valuable skill.
This is what hackers are now busy doing to hit Iran’s nuclear facility.
You can download a book like 'practical malware analysis' to help study this concept.
In addition to these skills, digital forensics is also a worth having skill.
Having guided you on what you need to know to become a skilful hacker, the ball is in your court, and so you must begin.
Just remember, it is a very long journey that requires a lot of patience and dedication. Once you begin it, don't pause or give up along the way; if you do so, your knowledge will decay.
Last but not least, hacking is more practical, but practicals without theory are blind, and also, theory without practicals is lame.