Cracking is often confused with hacking. Both may seem similar and both are indeed cybercrimes. However there is a distinction between hacking and cracking. Cracking is mostly about infringing copyrights for the benefit of people who refuse to pay for copyrighted materials. It is actually the technique of obtaining and using data illegally. There are generally three types of hackers, namely, password crackers, executable program hackers and hobbyists. The first two usually have malicious intent for what they do but the last group rarely has any malicious intent.
Password crackers concern themselves with cryptography and how to break current encryption algorithms. Password crackers study as much as possible about the weaknesses of cryptography and try to apply this knowledge on any piece of encrypted information they can get their hands on. Basically, their job or hobby is to break passwords so they can gain illegal access into websites etc. They can use any possible method they know of, be it using Trojan horses or creating a brute force program. A brute force guesser is a program that generates all possible permutations of a variable-length password containing alphanumeric characters. With every password generated, the brute force guesser then tests it on the network. If it gains entry, it will save that password and notify the person who ran it that that’s the correct password. A faster but less effective variant of the brute force guesser is the dictionary based guesser.
This is a program which guesses the password based on a dictionary of known words (say, the English dictionary for example). If the user has a correctly spelt English word as his password in this case, his password can be cracked in almost no time. Brute force guessers are very slow and are only effective against passwords of length 9 characters or less. 10 character passwords need a maximum of a few years, using the latest hardware, to crack using the brute force technique. Back to Jump
Executable program hackers believe in the self-created principle that programs were created to obey humans, so altering them for their own benefit is nothing wrong, just an occurrence of the principle at work. What this means is that these crackers do not think twice about altering the underlying instructions of a piece of software to break the limited ability (usually found in shareware or demo software), thus, unleashing the program’s full capabilities for free. This to them is nothing wrong since it is just a case of a program obeying a human. Of course it hurts the developers of the program. How can the developers expect to make money with people who keep breaking the trial features so the public can use such commercial programs for free? However, such skills only come after years of exposure to and practice of programming.
Not anybody can do it either because it is very difficult to reverse engineer a program considering the fact that many programs now have many protection mechanisms against reverse engineers. It takes years of skill to be able to crack most programs today, even though there are still programs out there that are very easily crackable. Basically, a program, after being compiled from its source code, can still be modified as compiling only converts it into machine code. Thus, someone who understands machine code, with the help of a debugger and a disassembler, can easily read through the program as if he were reading the source code. This is dangerous. Imagine the analogy of letting the enemy survey the insides of your castle’s fortress before a war. It is very devastating and will result in an inevitable break-in as all the weaknesses can be easily identified.
Hobbyists are a cross between the two groups of crackers stated above. They take up cracking just for the pure sake of knowledge. Therefore, they pose little threat, though some do pervert from this nature, in which case they can pose quite a serious threat. These people usually have a lot of time on their hands and thus, can be very knowledgeable about cracking. They may even be better than seasoned password crackers and executable file crackers. The fact that they have too much time on their hands also means that they will not mind spending that extra time in cracking a program or a password. Most of them crack programs “for the public” in an attempt to serve the public with the knowledge that they have. This is very dangerous as it will mean that the average user can easily obtain proprietary software without paying a single cent.
To ensure full protection, a user must always have long passwords that are not readily available in dictionaries. This will ensure that the Sun would have burnt out before any cracker even gets close to cracking the password that the user has with a brute forcer. A program should also readily employ anti-reverse engineering techniques to make sure that it is secure from crackers. If it is easy to crack, then it is definitely inviting trouble.
A guide to recognizing con artists and investment fraud
The psychology of fraud
Why do con artists scam?
Techniques Used To Sell Fraudulent Investments