The 7 Stages of Hacking
Hacking is a process that also has a Code...
Hacking can be likened to ‘Piracy’, if at all it isn’t just another name for piracy, in and out of itself. It is a process with a lot of unwritten rules that hackers abide by to land their prey and feast on their harvest.
It is also interesting to know that this framework followed by hackers who carry out hacks is known as the Lockheed Martin Cyber Kill Chain which ironically enough serves as a methodology that is designed to recognize and stop cyber-attacks.
Finding out about a prospective target is the first step in the process, which leads to data theft at the conclusion. What steps do hackers take to compromise a system, then?
The Kill Chain comprises of seven steps.
Hackers Gather and Study Information
Scoping out the target is the first step of a cyberattack called reconnaissance. This often entails gathering data that is openly accessible about a possible target, such as social media usernames, email addresses, and public records.
If they are interested in a particular person, they might find this information through data leaks or by carrying out the menial tasks.
In the latter scenario, they might use more advanced techniques like a Bluetooth attack or network interception, sometimes known as a Man-in-the-Middle (MITM) attack. While the latter can only be accomplished on-site by intercepting the victim’s Wi-Fi, the former requires the hacker to be physically present near the target.
The ultimate objective is to discover as much as possible about the targets, including their operating systems, the devices they use, and the services they utilize. They may be able to identify weaknesses with the knowledge they learn here.
The Equipment Required for Attacks is Obtained by Hackers
Within the Cyber Kill Chain, this phase is referred to as “weaponization.” After gathering the necessary resources for the cyberattack, hackers arm themselves with knowledge about their possible targets. For instance, they might produce malware and conceal it in files that their victim is likely to download.
You could compare this phase to going fishing. This is where our reference to Piracy comes into play; for those familiar with the term in reference to criminals on sea. The equipment you’ll need to bring along for freshwater lake fishing will be different from the equipment you’ll need for ocean fishing. Most likely, you would use a different boat as well.
Hackers set up traps by casting a wide net
In the Kill Chain, this phase is referred to as “delivery.” At essence, the bad guys are invited into the fortress in this step, which involves fooling the target into installing the malware.
Hackers frequently carry out this activity by disseminating emails that include malicious files.
The malware may also be delivered via photos, as was the case when hackers used images from the James Webb telescope to transmit malware. Another typical method used by hackers to spread malware is SQL injection.
The objective is to convince the target to download malware onto their device in any way possible. From this point on, the virus takes control, mechanically extracting and injecting itself into the system.
A System Vulnerability is exploited by the Malware
As soon as it is on the target’s computer, the malware takes control. The malware may automatically extract and operate on the victim’s device if certain background events, such USB or Media Autoplay, are triggered. “Extraction” is the name of this stage.
Malware acts as intended by its programming
In this stage, the malware typically discreetly installs itself in the background without the victim’s knowledge once it has gained access to the machine (or computer network).
The system then starts looking for flaws that could be exploited to give the hacker elevated administrative rights.
A Command-and-Control System is also established between the malware and the hacker. The hacker can use this technique to get regular status reports on the hack’s development.
Consider the Command-and-Control System as an intelligence officer who doubles as a spy for another unit to put it into perspective. Due to their position, the spy has access to critical information. They are also prepared to gather and send stolen intelligence covertly thanks to this status.
The Spy System Takes Control and Grows
To construct its Command-and-Control System, which is also the name of the sixth stage in the Kill Chain, the malware does a number of actions at this stage. It usually keeps checking for weaknesses in the system. In addition, if the victim learns where the entry point is, it may construct backdoors that hackers can use to access the system.
Additionally, in order to infect additional devices connected to the compromised devices, the system searches for additional devices in that network. Comparable to when the common cold strikes the entire office. Anyone can forget exactly who started it if enough time has passed.
Take, destroy, and flee
In the real hacking procedure, sensitive data like login credentials, credit card numbers, or files holding trade secrets are taken in the last stage, when the cybercriminal has enhanced control over the victim’s system.
The system’s files could also be destroyed by a hacker, which is harmful in particular if the victim doesn’t have a backup of the data that was taken and lost.