The Evolution of Hacking

The Evolution of Hacking

By Stu Sjouwerman, for Security Awareness Training

It helps to understand more about the history of hacking, when you need to defend yourself against cyber criminals. So here is your Executive Summary:

Early hacking started when guys like Kevin Mitnick became ‘digital delinquents’ and broke into the phone company networks. That was to a large degree to see how far they could get with social engineering, and it got them way further than expected. Actual financial damage to hundreds of thousands of businesses started only in the nineties, but has moved at rocket speed these last 20 years.

Generation ONE
Those were the teenagers in dark, damp cellars writing viruses to gain notoriety, and to show the world they were able to do it. Relatively harmless, no more than a pain in the neck to a large extent. We call them sneaker-net viruses as it usually took a person to walk over from one PC to another with a floppy disk to transfer the virus.

Generation TWO
These early day ‘sneaker-net’ viruses were followed by a much more malicious type of super-fast spreading worms (we are talking a few minutes) like Sasser and NetSky that started to cause multi-million dollar losses. These were still more or less created to get notoriety, and teenagers showing off their “elite skills”.

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1 thought on “The Evolution of Hacking”

  1. Additional info:
    From my advertising and PR work for telecom security firms and associations, I learned that one hack into a telephone network could cost a phone carrier hundreds of thousands of dollars.
    The illegal access is ramified down to dozens of criminals who resell that carrier's stolen overseas phone time.
    Sometimes it's an informal network. Other times it's sold to community storefronts with a little phone bank in the back room. People in the community line up to pay pennies on the dollar for overseas LD time.
    Today, more and cheaper ways of phoning around the world have diminished the profit differential in that effort.

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