A hacking attack is an attempt to gain unauthorized access to a computer or network for the purpose of stealing sensitive data, causing damage, or gaining unauthorized control over the system. There are many different types of hacking attacks, and they can be carried out using a variety of methods, such as exploiting vulnerabilities in software or hardware, using social engineering tactics to trick people into revealing their login credentials, or using malware to infect and compromise systems.
To protect against hacking attacks, it is important to use strong, unique passwords for all accounts, keep all software and devices up to date with the latest security patches, and be cautious when clicking on links or downloading files from unfamiliar sources.
It is also a good idea to use security software, such as firewalls and antivirus programs, to help protect against attacks. If you suspect that your computer or network has been hacked, it is important to take action immediately to mitigate the damage and prevent further attacks. This may include disconnecting from the internet, running a scan with security software, and changing all passwords.
The majority of people are generally aware that hackers and malicious users can attack their systems. However, most people don’t really understand the specific attacks that they are vulnerable to, much less the key signs that a hacker has infiltrated their system.
Detecting Hacker Attacks
A malicious hacker can exploit your system vulnerabilities in a number of ways. An attack may come through one specific exploit, several different exploits at once, a mis-configuration in one of your system components, or probably a backdoor that was created during a past attack.
It is impossible to be fully certain that your system has been compromised just because your machine displays the behaviors indicated. However, if your system does show a number of these signs, then it is likely that you have been hacked.
The guidelines below relate to machines that run either Windows operating system or UNIX,
For Windows OS:
- An unusually high level of outgoing network traffic. In case you are using ADSL or a dial-up account and you detect a suspiciously large volume of outgoing traffic, yet you aren’t actively uploading anything, your system could be under attack. A malicious hacker could be using your computer to send out spam, or a network worm could be using your system to replicate and distribute itself. However, if you are using a network cable to browse the web, then it gets a bit tricky because your outgoing and incoming traffic are usually almost the same.
- Elevated levels of disk activity and unknown files in your root directory. Most malicious hackers tend to run massive scans on the computers of their targets, looking for any documents or files of value. The scans tend to increase disk activity even when the computer is in an idle state. These scans are meant to unearth passwords for websites, online payment accounts or bank login information. There are also some worms that infect your system and then search for documents containing email addresses. These can then be used to spread the worm to other network users. If you detect an increase in disk activity together with folders with suspicious names, then you may have been hacked or infected with malware.
Your personal firewall stopping a huge number of packets from one source address. Malicious hackers normally use automated probing tools to find multiple ways of penetrating a system. If you discover that your firewall is stopping a suspiciously large number of packets originating from one address, then you could be under attack.
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The fact that your firewall is able to stop these attacks is great, but there is a possibility that the hacker will target a specific FTP service in your system that you may have exposed when online. The best action to take is to temporarily block the hacker’s IP address until they stop trying to connect to your system.
Sudden reports of Trojans and backdoors being detected by your antivirus. The common misconception is that malicious hackers always launch attacks in complex ways, yet the truth is that they will always take the easier route if it is available.
If your system has been previously compromised, a malicious hacker will simply use a backdoor or Trojan to fully access it. In case your antivirus is giving reports of such malware yet you haven’t made any recent changes to the system, somebody could be accessing your system remotely.
For UNIX machines:
Any files with suspicious names in your /tmp folder. Most malicious hackers tend to create temporary files and hide them in the /tmp folder. These files are not usually deleted, thus making it possible to detect whether hackers have penetrated a system.
There are also certain worms that target UNIX systems. They make themselves at home in the /tmp folder and use it to recompile themselves. You need to look out for these signs. The addition of suspicious services to your /etc/services file. Malicious hackers often add a few extra text lines in order to open a backdoor into a UNIX system. A hacker will target two files – /etc/services and /etc/inetd.conf. These are the files that you need to keep an eye on in order to monitor any backdoors that a hacker may have opened in your system.
Modification of system files contained in the /etc/ folder. A malicious hacker will usually create a new user profile that they will use to log into the system later. Such modifications take place in the /etc/shadow and /etc/passed files. If you are using a multi-user system, you should always watch out for any suspicious usernames or additions within the password file.