For as long as we have been using technology, there have been individuals and organisations out there intent on using it against us. They will do this through hacking, and being hacked is a nightmare for many companies. It is the one thing you hope never to have to deal with. Unfortunately, it can still happen if you don’t take your cybersecurity seriously.
There are so many different reasons why hackers might choose to target your website or system in particular. But in order to understand why they may target you, we also need to figure out just why hackers hack in the first place.
You can summarise these reasons into one of three categories. If you are curious, simply keep reading to find out the three reasons why hackers hack.
1. To steal information
Perhaps the most common reason for hackers to hack is to steal information. This could be the information and data you have on your employees, but it could also be the private data of your clients that they are after. These are the hacks we tend to hear the most about, often because hackers will go for the biggest targets in order to draw attention and get more data.
Back in 2011 we discovered that around 77 million people were at risk, as the PlayStation Network had been hacked. It was a huge deal, as Sony revealed that the names, addresses, and other important details of their users had been stolen in the attack. It lead to the network being inaccessible for a week, and many users were advised to change their login details to stay secure following the attack.
However, many were concerned about the credit card details stored on their accounts. The company stated that they had no evidence this information had been taken, but cautioned their users that the data may still have been taken. Recently users have been cautioned again to ensure their logins are secure as 2.5 million players using unofficial websites have found their details stolen yet again, across both the PlayStation and Xbox systems.
Sony is not the only company to fall victim to a hack, where the hackers have been keen to steal personal information and data relating to employees and clients alike. Many of the companies suffered greatly as a result of the hack. For a lot of people they will read about these hacks and think “it will never happen to me”. But by not taking your cybersecurity seriously, you are putting your data at risk.
Hackers will choose to hack websites and networks where they can get access to information. This information is valuable to them, whether they get credit card information or not. Your address and name still have value to them, which is one of the reasons hackers choose to attack. They want this information and they are willing to do absolutely anything they can to get it. This is why it is essential to have a secure system in place. It will make it more difficult for the hackers to get in, giving you more time to fight the attack.
2. To make a statement
The hackers we are about to talk about sometimes steal information. However, they will not do it for monetary gain, like those described above. Instead they feel that they have a higher purpose. They want to steal information or get into your network or website in order to make a statement.
One of the most memorable hacks is the Ashley Madison hack. The hack took place in 2015 and resulting in the hackers obtaining the account details of 32 million members. These included things like email addresses, real names, and other vital details that the users would rather keep secret.
It was devastating to members of the website and staff alike, but the hackers left a message on the website to inform everyone about what they had done. They wanted the users to know why they had taken the information and just what they thought about the website. They criticised it for being “the internet’s #1 cheating site”, keen to take the website down. They wanted the website shut down and stating that, while “shutting down AM and EM will cost you”, “non-compliance will cost you more”.
From reading this you may feel that you are safe as a consumer, and that hackers will not want to target you. However, hackers will still target individuals because of the information they have to offer. They might want to make a statement about you in same way, as we have seen many times.
For example, emails are also a popular target for activist hackers, especially when it comes to politics. In fact at the beginning of May we discovered that Emmanuel Macron, President-elect for France, had his presidential campaign emails leaked following a hack. Giving the timing of the hack, many speculate that it was done with a purpose – to sway the votes.
The emails were posted online just over a day before voters went to the polls to decide who their new President would be. The timing was suspicious, leading people to believe that they emails had been leaked to try and change the minds of voters. It was a bold statement to make against the President-elect and has people still talking about just who was behind the attack.
3. Because they can
Sometimes hackers aren’t really concerned with making a statement or even stealing your data. Sometimes they want to get into your network simply because they can. They might be bored or eager to test their skills against your network, hoping to cause a little chaos along the way.
When a hacker hacks your website or network, they want you to know about it. It is fun for them, but it is even more entertaining if they leave something there for you to find. There are all kinds of different things they might do to make their mark, and sometimes it may not even be something obvious.
Many websites rely on search engine optimisation to get potential new customers seeing what they have to offer. Through the use of key words and phrases, they are able to climb the Google results page. This means that they are more likely to get visits from users, who are then more likely to buy their product or use their services.
Hackers know this and will sometimes work to try and ruin your reputation and ranking in Google. There are different ways you can be penalised for SEO because of a hack. This is something hackers enjoy doing. Sometimes they don’t want to make a statement or steal your information. Sometimes they hack simply because they can. They want to defeat the challenge that your cybersecurity offers them, and then share this knowledge so that others will know just how skilled they are.
Dealing with hackers
Hacks are taking place all of the time, and while the reasons might vary, the purpose is still the same. Hackers want to get into your network or website. So what you need to do is ensure your cybersecurity is the best it can be to stop them from achieving their goal.
One of the best things you can do to test your cybersecurity is to perform a penetration test. We here at ODS conduct these tests, running a full analysis of your web application in order to find any flaws or errors hackers might exploit. We also do black box testing to see just how your security would hold up if there was a real attack, helping you spot the problems so that you can fix them.
People often say if you can’t beat them, join them, and this is true when it comes to the security of your website and network. Perhaps one of the best moves you can make to help ease your mind and feel safe online is to hire a hacker. It is possible to do this and is a great solution for you.
Hackers know how hackers minds work. They know about the chinks in your cybersecurity armour that hackers will use to get access to your personal data and information. They can then help you to create a more effective security system, and this is something we can do at ODS. Curious about how we can help you? You can contact us to request more information about the services we offer, from penetration testing to network and server security.