Even though cyber attacks are a fairly common sight, hacking is not an easy task. Yes, there are thousands of automated tools today that allow hackers to crack a password or breach into a system in just a few seconds. However, to carry out a full-fledged cyberattack on a target organization requires planning, technical expertise, quick thinking, and a hell lot of danger. If you are a student who is going to learn ethical hacking online, then you will eventually learn about these 5 stages of hacking and how to implement them. Read till the end to know in detail how a hacker carries out a cyberattack on its target.
1. Gathering Information or Reconnaissance
The first step in the hacking process is to gather as much information as you can about your target. There are a lot of sources to do this. Open source intelligence gathering or OSINT is one of the most popular methods of doing cyber espionage. One can use the Internet, social media, google dorks or physical resources to know in detail about the target. For example, hackers search LinkedIn to know about the technologies that organizations are using so that they can use vulnerabilities in those technologies to break into the organization. If the hackers are trying to target an organization using social engineering and phishing, then this step will comprise of getting to know about the target employee through their social media profiles or online presence so their passwords can be guessed or their phishing mails can be custom-tailored for better impact.
2. Scanning and Enumeration
The next stage in hacking is scanning and enumeration. If you are undergoing CEH training, our real experience with hacking tools will start here in the step. This includes network scanning, vulnerability scanning and port scanning. Basically, there are automated tools like Nmap that hackers use to discover open ports, live hosts, services and other resources. This helps them to know usernames, machine names and specific information about the services running on the target organization. Once hackers have done scanning and enumeration, they will know how many of the target services are vulnerable so that they can pick their weapons and perform a planned and focused attack with lesser chances of being detected.
3. Getting In
Once a hacker has gathered all the necessary information, they start attacking. This is the stage where the actual assault takes place. Hackers use all kinds of tools and techniques to exploit the discovered vulnerabilities in the previous step. After entering the system successfully, they use their technical expertise and acquired tactics to escalate their privileges to the highest level that is the admin level or the root.
This is the most damaging stage of cyber attack. This is where the hacker installs the malware or the payload that damages the target. A payload is the actual malicious software or code that carries out the instructions of the attack. Depending on what the payload is, a target can suffer from a ransomware attack, a data breach, a cryptominer, or a Remote Access Trojan.
5. Getting out
Last but not the least, the hacker leaves the target after the work is done. They might leave a secret backdoor in the target system to access it easily in the future or to sell the backdoor access to other hackers. This final stage also includes deleting log files and getting rid of all traces of the crime from the target system so that they remain in the dark about the attack and the identity of the hacker.