So You Want to Be a Hacker? December 98 – 1.1

I get numerous emails and messages daily from people who want to know how to be a hacker. This text is for them.

Click here to download the WordPad version of this text (16 KB).

I.   Introduction
II.  What is a hacker?
III. Why do people want to become a hacker?
IV.  How do be a hacker
V.   Gaining Knowledge
     1).  Read
     2).  Learn to program
     3).  Hack
VI.  Knowledge is Power
     1).  Getting someone's password
     2).  Getting someone's IP address
VII. Seek, and ye shall find

 

I. Introduction

So you want to be a hacker? Many people want to be a hacker, but they don't know where to start, or what hacking really means. Hopefully this text will clear some things out and help you on your path to become a true hacker.

II. What is a hacker?

Everyone seems to have their own little definition of what a hacker is. The press views hackers as people who cause computer mischief, AOLers think hackers who are people who can push buttons on their downloaded proggies, computer nerds and rejects from society claim to be hackers because it makes them feel united and part of a group, crackers who write viruses and crash computers think they're hackers, and all thoses kewl people in those IRC chat rooms call themselves hackers, and so on. So what exactly is hacker? Here's the definition that I think most people would agree with:

hacker 1. A person who enjoys exploring the details of programmable systems and how to stretch their capabilities, as opposed to most users, who prefer to learn only the minimum necessary. (taken from The Hacker's Dictionary)

What exactly does this mean? A hacker is someone who is fascinated by computers, wants to learn more about them and then go beyond that. Hackers seek knowledge, especially forbidden or "secret" knowledge. One thing about being a hacker is to remember that knowledge is good, and should be shared with other hackers.

III. Why do people want to become a hacker?

Press, hyped up movies, and the huge growth of the Internet is drawing new hacker wannabes in everyday. It this good? Yes and no. It's mostly good, but it's also bad because some people don't really understand what a hacker is. They think hacking is sending out viruses, crashing computers and stealing passwords from some 12 year old girl off AOL. These things are definitely not cool.

But what about the inside force that really makes people want to become a hacker? Hackers are the "elite" of the Internet. They know far more things than the average user, and can do things to computers that most people wouldn't even know were to start. There is a certain "ego satisfaction" to be a hacker.

IV. How do be a hacker

So, now that you know what a hacker is, and why some people want to become a hacker, here's what I have to say on how to be a hacker. First of all, it takes time to become a hacker. You can't just decide you want to be a hacker and then become one overnight. Second, there are no teachers (unless you're lucky and find a mentor). Most hackers taught themselves. They learned by reading, asking and doing. Now, a note about asking questions. Do not ask stupid questions like "HOW DO I HACK?" Ask questions that have an answer in a couple of sentences. If you do, your question will be answered most of the time. And third, to be a hacker, you have to hack. You can't just sit around and pretend to be a hacker. Do something with your newfound knowledge. But try to follow these two simple rules:

V. Gaining Knowledge

1). Read. Read everything you can about hacking. Articles, texts, books, magazines, message boards, anything with the word "hack" in it. Of course, anything computer related will also help. You're already doing a good job reading this text. Here are some hacking related books and magazines that I suggest you read:

2600 magazine - Very good source of hacking info. You can find it at your local bookstore, at the magazine rack. Just look for the number 2600.
CYPERPUNK - A book about three different hackers.
Cuckoo's Egg - Informative book about some guy tracking down a hacker who broke into his computer. Definitely not boring and can be informative to those with hardly no knowledge of how hacking into a computer is actually done.

2). Learn to Program. A hacker who can't program is like a skater who can't skate. This is one of the more devious parts of becoming a hacker because it takes time and patience. Why should a hacker know how to program? Because by learning how to program, a hacker can make a computer do whatever the hell he wants it to. And that's power. Have you ever found yourself saying "I wish I had a program to do that..." Well, if you learn to program, you can just make that program. So, where to start? First, you need to choose a programming language. The two most popular out are Visual Basic (VB) and C/C++. The difference between them? VB is easy to use and learn, but its programs aren't that fast and they require a runtime DLL file. C++ compiles fast programs, but is hard to learn and get started. Another difference between them is compatibility. VB is for Windows operating systems only (Win 3.11, Win95/98, WinNT), while C++ code can be made to run on practically any operating system (Windows, Unix, even Mac). Where can you get VB or C++? You buy it (or...ahem, cough, warez, cough, cough, friend with CD burner, cough, cough). Once you learn the basics of the programming language, learn Windows API. It's the guts of Windows.

3). Hack. Like I said before, in order to be a hacker, you have to hack. Hanging around in chat rooms won't help you. Hacking lets you "practice" your hacking skills. The more you practice, the better you get. After you're an experience hacker, contribute something to the hacker community. This could be a simple text file, a web page, or a [free] program. Oh, and help out those newbie hackers. You were one once.

VI. Knowledge is Power

The most frequent questions people ask me are how to get someone's password and how do get someone's IP address.

Getting someone's password

There are three main ways to get someone's password.

1). Social Engineering. By talking to someone who knows the password, you can try to "trick" them into giving you it. Be creative. The AOL equivalent is phishing (posing as an AOL technician or something, claiming to need the person's password), though phishing takes no skill and is hardly considered social engineering.

2). Password Stealers or Sniffers (PWS). A program installed on the user's machine that literally gets the password as it is being typed in. Some PWS also search for stored passwords. After a PWS obtains a password, it usually stores it or sends it out through email. You would probably have to make your own (learn to program!) if you want it to be effective, though sometimes there are pre-made ones. Those AOL PWS are mostly crap, most of them only steal the password from the Change Password Window, which is not very effective.

3). Password Cracker. A program on your machine that guesses passwords from a list. This can take some time, and would not be able to crack a user's password if it's not on the password list.

Getting someone's IP Address

First, you need to understand what an IP address is. Every computer connected to the Internet has an IP address, which is, in simple terms, equivalent to a phone number. It identifies the computer on the Internet. The IP address is where data is sent to and from. If the person is signing on through a dial up account, the IP address is usually different at each login. To find your IP address, click on the Start button, Run, and then type in winipcfg. And for you AOLer's who think who don't have an IP address, make sure that the listbox says "AOL Adapter," not "PPP Adapter." So, why get someone's IP address? Hell if I know. Maybe to do something lame, like nuke (crash) a computer, or maybe because a backdoor like NetBus or BackOrifice is installed. Anyway, IP addresses can be obtain through these methods:

VII. Seek, and ye shall find.

One of the most annoying questions I hear are "Do you have this?" or "Can you send me this?" or "Where can I get this?" Well, I'm going to tell you this TOP SECRET thing I found called a SEARCH ENGINE. You type in what you what you're looking for, and it gives you links to web pages that have the words in it! WOW!

Okay, that was lame, anyway, any experienced web surfer will tell you that you can find anything on the web your heart desires. Whether that would be XXX pics, games, or how to be a hacker, its all there. You just need to know how to find it. Now, for search engines, I prefer www.yahoo.com and www.infoseek.com. When typing stuff in the search box, be sure you use + (plus sign) in front of words that you want combined. For example, let's say you're looking for an ICQ IP sniffer program. Now, if you just typed in "ICQ IP sniffer" (without the quotes), it would give you web sites like ICQ reviews, what IP addresses are, and pages about your mom (heh, j/k). But if you typed in "+ICQ +IP +sniffer," it will look for pages that have all those words. Understand?

Also, another web browsing technique that I like to use is opening multiple windows. This is especially useful when you're like me, stuck with a 33.6 modem. Okay, so, let's say Infoseek found 15 page results that have to do with ICQ IP Sniffers. When I find a link I want to open, instead of just clicking on it, I would click the right mouse button to bring up that pop-up menu, and then click Open Link in New Window. This would open another browsing window. And then when I find another link I want to go to, I do the same thing. The purpose of all this? To view one page while another is loading.

Congratulations, this concludes the So You Want to Be a Hacker? text. You have now earned your CHW (Certified Hacker Wannabe). So, one last question remains: How do you know when you're a hacker? Well, the answer is when someone tells you.

-coldfire

coldfire's realm

Comments? Questions? Suggestions? Typos? Email coldfirez@usa.net
And please, no "Where can I get…" questions.