To Catch A Hacker: To Know One, Be One

With the recent breaking news of 4chan posting leaked photos of celebrities like Jennifer Lawrence, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, and Victoria Justice, it just goes to show how easily hackers can go undetected.

But the best way to catch a hacker is to learn the ways of a hacker.

Hackers enjoy a life of anonymity. They can be someone else behind an cyberspace curtain, in a land far away or in the apartment downstairs. They can slip in and out of internet cracks with little or no detection by a simple change of an IP address. Hence, why it’s so hard to catch hackers.

In fact, CNN reports that Jennifer Lawrence’s legal reps implied that common viewers will be in trouble for sharing the photos.

“The authorities have been contacted and will prosecute anyone who posts the stolen photos of Jennifer Lawrence.”

Notice the statement said they will seek damages from folks posting the images on the internet, NOT from the hacker or hackers to committed the leak in the first place.

It’s simply too difficult to track many of them down. Or so it was thought.

To be a hacker, one must know what hackers like. It’s not too much different from common day criminals. Anything or anyone that appears wide open, vulnerable and naive is subject to an attack.

The first step in knowing how to track hackers is to have some computer programming knowledge and familiarity with writing code. You don’t need to read the Bible of programming to know how to think like a hacker either. Once you can fluently speak the language of hacker, you can go and mingle more comfortably with them.

Getting that knowledge is actually quite simple and often times free.

Business Insider told an inspiring story of a young California chef named Ashley Hamilton. Yes, we said chef.

Wanting a change of career scenery, Hamilton wanted to take up programming. Never stepping foot on a campus, Hamilton was hired to a computer security company as an entry level application security engineer. She listed the sources she used educate herself on computer programming.

  1. The Web Application Hacker’s Handbook: Finding and Exploiting Security Flaws
  2. Head First SQL: Your Brain on SQL — A Learner’s Guide
  3. The Web Goat Project
  4. XSS Challenges

She went from sautéing fish to learning the ways of the hackers to protect the networks of large companies… all for free. Not to mention, she’s likely making incredible money, too. Simply Hiredstates that the average computer programmer in California makes nearly $90,000 a year!

According to a Motherboard article, malicious codes are placed in unprotected hosted websites or other places on the internet by hackers called “honeypots.” Honeypots are legitimate-looking servers that security companies utilize to catch hackers in the act and to track their behavior.

“Honeypots are normally created on virtual private servers—rentable places to host things on the internet. If things go well, hackers find these servers, scan for weaknesses, and break into them for whatever purposes they choose. It’s like hosting an open house for robbers — except when they find there’s nothing inside, they set up shop and start trying to steal things or create a base for storing criminal tools.”

Knowing where these “shops” are online makes it easier to locate these hackers anywhere in the world and stop their activity… and possibly prosecute them.

In one instance, a hacker from China was caught trying to upload malware to a honeypot in hopes to catching a user’s keyboard typings and having the stolen data sent back to them.

The website mentioned common names of some malware hackers use like Virut, Atak, and the Windows-based MS08-67.

Besides installing malware protection like McAfee or Norton to a computer, familiarity and a little hacking knowledge are the best way to live where hackers live, act how hackers act, and importantly, stop them in their tracks.

[Image via Darkgovernment]