The Hacker’s Objectives

1.1 The Hacker’s Objectives

There are many reasons why people hack computer powered devices, but they all boil down to data. Steal data! Change data! Destroy data!

The motivations and objectives of hackers vary widely. Motivations range from idle curiosity to criminal intent. Perhaps the hacker just wants to brag that he or she can do it proving one’s cyber manhood (or womanhood). Perhaps the hacker was paid by a nation state for political and military benefit. Maybe the hacker was hired as an industrial spy for competitive and personal gain.

Objectives can be as simple as proving that the hacker could “log in” or as complex as stealing information from someone’s network for years without being noticed. Most of the time, the motivation has nothing to do with you personally, except that your data was valuable enough to merit the risk.

As examples, objectives might include:

  1. Denial of data access (blocking someone from accessing a storage device).
  2. Intellectual Property (IP) theft (stealing the top secret formula for a soft drink).
  3. Inflicting loss of reputation through exposure of sensitive information (revealing a political candidate’s tax returns or medical records).
  4. Creating loss of trust in a corporation (exposing a bank or credit card institution’s security weakness).
  5. Extortion (demanding a ransom payment in return for restoring one’s data access or keeping sensitive data from becoming public).
  6. Kinetic effect (having something happen in the real world—such as shutting off a power grid, controlling a patient drug infusion device, or controlling an airplane).

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