With the continued growth of the internet, the need to understand how cyber attacks occur is of crucial importance. The general public, especially those who are network administrators need to be more vigilant when the system detects threats, so as to handle them accordingly.
Ethical hackers are digital detectives called when a serious threat has taken place to search computer systems looking for evidence of entry left by an attacker or try and determine what might have been taken or left in a particular computer system. For instance, in October 2016 the US government led by President-elect, Barrack Obama accused Russia of hacking into the Democratic National Committee’s computer system to release humiliating information about dignitaries in the government as well as to disrupt the presidential election process.
In this instance, ethical hackers were summoned to scrutinize digital systems by examining user logins to find out what actually happened and destroy any malicious software that might have been installed. They came together with legal, business, and intelligence experts to further interpret the electronic data they were obtaining.
How are cyber attacks dealt with?
In most computer systems, intrusion detection systems are setup to aid network administrators to spot any unauthorized interruptions. This system is the first one to respond to such activities by trying to analyze what happened to trigger it and make the relevant authorities aware of that disturbance in the system software. The detection system collects, organizes and analyzes large amounts of computer-generated electronic data and servers. Once you log into a specific system, it is able to a keep record of where you connected from and what you did on the system.
Depending on what the system analysis is, the administrator may rectify the intrusion himself or herself, by either prohibiting a particular user from logging in or restricting all network traffic from a particular connection or call an incident response team to fix a more complex issue. These incident response teams are a group of trained ethical hackers who deal with and manage such circumstances. Most private companies and nations have their own in-house teams, however, there are many independent teams that interested parties can call to handle such a scenario.
In the US, for instance, a hand-picked group of experts is trained to deal with extremely difficult situations. In addition to their military training and higher education on hacking, they learn how to apply their acquired skills to each unique situation that presents itself. They are involved in running digital forensic inquiries and probe malicious software that might be introduced during the attack. They work tirelessly to stop and prohibit any future attacks of a similar nature. In special occasions, they can hunt down the attackers and bring them to justice.
Tracking down your cyber attacker
It is incredibly difficult to find the precise location and identity of a cyber attacker. There is no physical evidence to assess and some of them go to the extent of covering up their digital tracks and create self-erasing codes or performing attacks from fake web addresses or even routing their attacks through the gadgets of innocent victims or even make it appear they are in multiple countries at once. It takes great skill to pin them down.
Often, combinations of skills are used to track them down. Files or data left during an attack or those leaked after the attack, help in narrowing down the list of assailants. Ethical hackers even consider the language used at the instance of secret information leaked to the public. They are able to decipher from what part of the sphere that leak has come from.
Ethical hackers consult each other on issues that they have tackled or are yet to tackle. This helps them to look at information from different points of view and show weaknesses that they had not discovered. It also helps to educate each other on different approaches they would have taken and compare with past experiences or scenarios.
Ethical hackers are the modern-day superheroes. Due to the fast spread and evolution of the internet, you never know who may be after you. Today, computers are an integral and everyday part of our lives; mobile devices software, car software, ATM machines, computer networks, or even personal computers are all at potential risk from cyber-attacks. However, ethical hackers will always come to your rescue when you need them.