Computer Hacking

Faced with the silence of a post-break up social life, I have found a new job to keep me busy: Computer hacking.

Just kidding, FBI. (And it’s not been that silent really, fear not.)

But I did pick up a few tips at an Intro to Hacking class at the Brooklyn Brainery, a great little crafts and lecture venue in Prospect Heights. I attended armed with my laptop and a limited knowledge of coding and the internet. And ninety minutes later, I left knowing how to inflict online havoc – and earn a little bit of cash, if I fancy a criminal record.

Brooklyn Brainery

After explaining why people want to hack (for notoriety or mischief), our teacher Mikhail Voloshin (a software engineer for Google) taught us the basics of making a simple website with text, pictures and colours. It took a matter of minutes.

Then we got on to the fun stuff by learning how to hack computers in different four ways. He held demos leading us through the steps:

Mikhail tells us how to take over the world

Mikhail tells us how to take over the world

Phishing Creating a fake site with a believable URL that is an exact copy of another site (Facebook, PayPal etc) and then sending emails to users asking them to sign in. Bam. Personal details galore.

Computer hacking

Click jacking This is what’s responsible for all those eyebrow-raising ‘likes’ you see on Facebook, you know when you see your little brother likes this sort of video:

 

Facebook picture

Client side request forgery Mikhail used the example of Zillow the property website. We learned how to send an email containing code; when the recipient simply opens the email, a certain listing would automatically be added to their Zillow ‘favourites’. So you could send a lot of people a listing you wanted to spread, for example.

Cross Site Scripting (XSS) Leaving javascript (coding that sparks an action on the site) in a comment box on a forum that will affect the website for every subsequent visitor. The comment can create annoying pop-up messages or completely re-write whole page and destroy it. Eek.

Computer hacking

I’m not going to give you any more info otherwise you might hack my lovely blog.

While the class seemed a bit slow at the start, I left knowing a lot more than I expected. Most encouraging/horrifying was just how easy it is to rustle up these tricks, which can be damaging enough to wreck a whole website.

I don’t see the fun in it personally, especially because you’re teasing a bunch of faceless strangers. And I have far too much of a conscience.

But what a great insight – and finally good to know what all those words mean! I love the variety of the Brooklyn Brainery, you should have a peek.

Brooklyn Brainery