Hacking has been a part of computing for almost five decades and it is a very broad discipline, which covers a wide range of topics. The first known event of hacking had taken place in 1960 at MIT and at the same time, the term "Hacker" was originated.
Hacking is the act of finding the possible entry points that exist in a computer system or a computer network and finally entering into them. Hacking is usually done to gain unauthorized access to a computer system or a computer network, either to harm the systems or to steal sensitive information available on the computer.
Hacking is usually legal as long as it is being done to find weaknesses in a computer or network system for testing purpose. This sort of hacking is what we call Ethical Hacking.
A computer expert who does the act of hacking is called a "Hacker". Hackers are those who seek knowledge, to understand how systems operate, how they are designed, and then attempt to play with these systems.
We can segregate hacking into different categories, based on what is being hacked. Here is a set of examples −
Website Hacking − Hacking a website means taking unauthorized control over a web server and its associated software such as databases and other interfaces.
Network Hacking − Hacking a network means gathering information about a network by using tools like Telnet, NS lookup, Ping, Tracert, Netstat, etc. with the intent to harm the network system and hamper its operation.
Email Hacking − It includes getting unauthorized access on an Email account and using it without taking the consent of its owner.
Ethical Hacking − Ethical hacking involves finding weaknesses in a computer or network system for testing purpose and finally getting them fixed.
Password Hacking − This is the process of recovering secret passwords from data that has been stored in or transmitted by a computer system.
Computer Hacking − This is the process of stealing computer ID and password by applying hacking methods and getting unauthorized access to a computer system.
Hacking is quite useful in the following scenarios −
To recover lost information, especially in case you lost your password.
To perform penetration testing to strengthen computer and network security.
To put adequate preventative measures in place to prevent security breaches.
To have a computer system that prevents malicious hackers from gaining access.
Hacking is quite dangerous if it is done with harmful intent. It can cause −
Massive security breach.
Unauthorized system access on private information.
Hampering system operation.
Denial of service attacks.
Malicious attack on the system.
There could be various positive and negative intentions behind performing hacking activities. Here is a list of some probable reasons why people indulge in hacking activities −
Just for fun
Steal important information
Damaging the system
System security testing
To break policy compliance