So, what’s in the hackers’ toolbox?

There is a wide range of hacking tools that can be used in a cyber attack in order to wreak havoc to the enemy state.

Some international law scholars classify the hacking tools into three categories: Syntactic, Semantic and Mixed attacks. Others divide them into Structured, Sequenced and Layered, whereas other erroneously include Electromagnetic weapons in the above category. 

We will divide the various hacking techniques into three main categories. Malicious programs, or malware, contain software such as viruses, pieces of code designed to corrupt or destroy data, worms, self-replicating programs, logic bombs, programs designed to be triggered when specific circumstances are met, and rootkits. The latter can in turn contain Trojan horses, camouflaged programs that appear to be harmless, and backdoor utilities, usually tied to programs that have been Trojaned, securing backdoor entry to a secured network.

Another category can constitute the Client-Server Platform Attacks designed to exploit Windows operating system vulnerabilities or Security Platforms Manipulation, by means of hacking into personal computer security software.

DDoS: Distributed Denial of Service attacks

However, the most often-used form of infiltrating to enemy network infrastructure is in the form of DDoS, or Distributed Denial of Service attacks, constituting one of the major threats in today’s internet.

Initially, a DDoS master employs automated tools to turn other computers into ‘zombies’ or ‘bots’, which in turn unknowingly ‘contaminate’ other computers. Then, the whole ‘army’ of bot computers is used to launch a coordinated attack, directing traffic to a specific website or server creating buffer overflow and bandwidth consumption. The target system is finally crippled by the continuous request for information and is eventually shut down.

In any case, who is considered to be the actual weapon? The code of the malicious programme, the hacker ‘orchestrating’ the attack, the user of the compromised ‘zombie computer’, or the computer itself? What about wireless smart phones with internet access?

Would they be considered a weapon too?