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Reasons for Hacking the Home Computer

written by: Steve Mallard•edited by: Brian Nelson•updated: 4/13/2009

This article defines hacking as a crime and compares it to everyday activities.

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    Reasons for Hacking the Home Computer

    Hacking is comparable to the crime of breaking and entering. In the USA, it is illegal to enter another person’s domain (house, computer, website, car) without their permission whether you take or leave anything, change or destroy things or not. The two most familiar kinds of hackers are black hat and white hat. Black hat hackers are the illegal intruders who typically have bad intentions and steal, store, vandalize, destroy or change things in a computer or computer system on or off the internet. This is usually cybertheft. White hat hackers can be legal or illegal intruders who typically have good intentions and tell the computer or network owner they need to put a lock in a particular place without taking, changing, or vandalizing anything after they have entered and looked around. Legal hackers have permission from the network owner before trying to gain backdoor access. White hat hackers who legally enter a computer network are computer security specialists with specialized education and training. They can be commissioned or employed by companies to deliberately access privileged electronic resources through backdoor methods so the company can fix any unsecure entrances. Legal white hat hackers do not typically bother with home computer intrusion. The white hat illegal hacking, without permission from the system owner and with good intentions, is cybertresspassing.

    Reasons for intruding and infecting home computers are as numerous and varied as there are criminals (hackers, infector authors, fraudsters). Some hackers with honorable intentions want to demonstrate the insecurity of particular networks and computers. However, without the permission of the owner of the network or computer, or without a court order, hacking is against the law in the United States. The following are three examples of intrusion without permission of the owner of the computer or network:

    • You are playing a practical joke on a friend by getting their email before they do.
    • You are stealing (taking anything without permission from the owner) information (confidential information, music).
    • You are monitoring the activities of someone you are not legally responsible for (such as an estranged spouse) on a computer you do not own.
    • Some reasons for infecting and intruding home computers can include:
      • The rampant spread of infectors to disable as many home computers as possible to generate an internet attack.
      • To use unprotected home computers as a storage place for illegal information or data.
      • To use unprotected home computers for organized attacks against particular network servers to disable or destroy them.
      • The retrieval of personal information to impersonate the particular computer user for malicious purposes such as identity theft while shopping online or placing damaging conversations and false reputations online.
      • Bulk emailings of questionable content (defamatory or unsuitable for children) disguised to be sent from the home computer user.

    The digital signatures law enforcement follows to identify the criminal could possibly lead them to your computer. The chances of your computer being used in this fashion are relatively slim. But, with the increasing availability of broadband where the transmission speeds are faster and the internet address of the home computer is unique compared to dial-up where the speed is slower and the individual internet address belongs to the internet service provider, the chances of an individual home computer being identified in a criminal scheme are increasing.

    By default, most text messaging programs are actively running in the background even when the text messaging program interface or icons are not visible. Hackers can use the “send file” feature to send infectors and malware without the computer owner's knowledge. They can also access the log that records written conversations. What can someone do with a log of your conversations? Remember not to use text messaging for sensitive or confidential conversations.