Hacking is one of the most polarizing things about the Internet—you think it’s either cool or despicable. Most people think it’s despicable. Even some of those who think it’s cool is because of how wicked it is. You can’t really blame them. Hacking into an online company mainframe and stealing information worth millions is kind of cool, in an evil genius way.
But would it surprise you that most of the things you know about hacking are wrong? Movies and the media have badly portrayed hacking for years that what most people believe about it are plain misconceptions. Want to know the real deal?
1 Hacking is Super Difficult
In movies, hacking seems to be that all-or-nothing gamble the good guys have at turning the odds to their favor so they can beat the bad guys by the skin of their teeth. And to do this, the hacker has to use their superhuman hacking skills to break into the database and wreak havoc.
The truth is, the most basic “hacking” stuff are quite easy. In fact, you can do a simple Google search on how to hack websites, smartphones, and other electronic devices. You’ll not only get several results, you’ll also get complete instructions and tools on how to do your thing.
One of the most basic hacks searched and used on Google? How to jailbreak iPhones.
2 Hacking Uses Incredibly Advanced Tools
You might think that breaking into someone’s Facebook account uses an incredibly sophisticated program or tool. But the truth is, hacking into an online account or website is easy. This is because websites and accounts are made by humans. And this means they are all prone to human errors.
Think about it. Most of the time, social media and email accounts get hacked is because the passwords are too common or too easy to figure out. This is why online sign-up sheets will prevent users from using “password” or “qwertyasdf” as their passwords nowadays. Why? Because it used to happen a lot in the past.
Most username and password breakers use a simple algorithm that runs common alphanumerical combinations. Most of the earlier ones actually just run the entire contents of a dictionary. But since most passwords these days ask for a combination of letters, numbers, special characters, and upper case, hacking tools have evolved, too.
3 Social Media Hacking Happens Often
There’s no denying it: social media accounts get hacked. There have been records of this in the past, especially those of Hollywood A-listers.
But unless you’re someone famous or privy to something of at least national importance, the chances of your social media accounts getting hacked is close to zero. Why would hackers even waste their time and resources breaking into your account?
When personal accounts get hacked, 9 out of 10 cases, it was done by someone the owner knows. Examples are an ex-lover, or a very nosy parent. And in cases like these, again, the security issue in question comes back to human error. Use stronger passwords and change them frequently.
4 Hacking Can Be Done in Minutes
Now, it was mentioned earlier that hacking isn’t super difficult. While that is true, that’s not saying that all kinds of hacking are easy. The more ambitious the target, the more difficult it is to pull off.
For example, try comparing hacking into someone’s Twitter account and hacking into an ATM machine to spew out all its cash (which, incidentally, happened in the US in January 2018). While the first hacking stint might just need a program with a pre-loaded algorithm, the second one requires meticulous planning and trial and error. That can’t be done in minutes.
Going back to the ATM example, the hackers must’ve first acquired their own standard ATM machine. Then they broke it down and studied how the circuitry and programming works. Then they must’ve spent quite some time testing out where the weak spots in the security were. Once they found it, they exploited it. They inserted their own custom hacking program that would make the ATM dispense all of the bills, like a jackpot. Crazy, right?
This kind of hacking job could take weeks, even months to pull off. And yet people think that hacking into a heavily-secured database of a top corporation is fast and easy as baking a pie.
5 You Can Get All the Secret Data by Remote Hacking
This is a plot device that movies and other media have used for years. The powerful, evil organization’s top-secret plans can be thwarted by a guy sitting somewhere, in front of several computer screens. But reality isn’t that convenient.
While people have successfully hacked into corporations and even government agencies, nothing of great importance has been breached or collected. This is because these agencies and corporations are smart enough to know that hackers will try to penetrate their system. And they also know that the best way to safeguard their data is to store it in a separate, on-site server (or servers).
Top companies will never trust their most sensitive data to the cloud. Anybody from anywhere with internet access can just hack a cloud storage, in theory. This is why most large-scale companies like Microsoft or Google have “server farms.” Those are literally whole rooms filled to bursting with storage hardware for their data.
This is why a person cannot simply type on a computer and gain access to FBI’s confidential list just by furiously typing hacking codes for 15 minutes. The most sensitive data are stored elsewhere.
In fact, when the National Security Agency’s spying program was breached back in 2013, it was revealed that the hacker, Edward Snowden, used to work at NSA as a system administrator. Getting all that juicy intel will require an inside job.
Hacking is a powerful activity that can be used even by ordinary people. And like all powerful things, it can become dangerous when used incorrectly, or if used by the wrong people. It’s a good thing 5 of the most known misconceptions about hacking have been corrected. Remember: knowledge is also powerful!