For Immediate IT Support 613-288-5805 or email us

The Five Phases of a Hack – Gaining Access

As a hacker moves through the 5 phases of a hack the chances of their success become greater. Ottawa managed service providers can help businesses, who do not have the resources for dedicated operations personnel, increase the likelihood of detection and prevention of a hack.

As exploits get discovered and patched, hackers have to constantly think outside the box. Due to the ever-changing trends in hacking, all systems need to be monitored, maintained and updated regularly by qualified network support professionals in Ottawa.

The gaining access phase is where creativity and lateral thinking come in to play. This is the phase that is portrayed in Hollywood productions. The phase that is the most fun for the hacker and that is most devastating to the organization. Gaining access. How does a hacker gain access?

It could be through a malicious email that was sent to one of the employees in the IT department. By asking a naive receptionist for their password in a brief phone call, or maybe someone used “P4ssW0rd” as their password.
Regardless of how easy it is, this is what all the thorough information gathering and scanning have to lead up to.

But let’s just say that it was not that easy, what does the hacker do when security policies have been followed closely by an organizations personnel? There are 2 steps in this phase to help a hacker own a system. Below is a description of these steps and methods used to successfully achieve them.

Password Cracking: If the hacker can’t guess a password with the information they gleaned from an employee’s social media page they will have to move on to more technical solutions, the one being called a dictionary attack. A dictionary attack is where the hacker has their computer try every password out of a massive file containing an entire dictionary that can be easily gotten on the internet. If the dictionary attack does not work, the attacker will try numerous other methods, such as
a hybrid attack, which is where substitutions and variations of dictionary words are used. Hence “P4ssw0rd” would not be cracked with a dictionary attack as it is not a word, but would be cracked with the right hybrid attack. If the hybrid attack fails then the hacker would try a brute-force crack on a password. A brute-force crack is where every possible combination of letters, numbers and characters is used to crack the password. Brute force is almost always a last resort as it can take literally years to crack a password using this method.

Privilege Escalation: Once the hacker has gotten access to the machine via a user account they assess what privileges that user has on the machine. If the user has administrator/superuser privileges then there is no need for them to escalate the privileges and they can continue on to the next phase of the hack. But what if the account they access has not got the privileges needed for the hacker to reach their objectives? They need to escalate their privileges. There are numerous ways for a hacker to escalate their privileges such as buffer overflow attacks, manipulation of processes running on the target system, zero-days… the list goes on and on. In the scanning phase, it is possible to determine which OS a system is running. If a hacker can determine to what level a system has been updated they can then exploit vulnerabilities that have not yet been patched to escalate their privileges.
There are several methods to mitigate the risk of a hacker gaining access to your system. Ottawa tech support providers can assist with up-to-date anti-virus software, patching, enforcing a password policy, intrusion detection and prevention systems deployed on hosts and the network, and many more policies, protocols and technologies that are too numerous to list. Computer service providers in Ottawa will assist you with incorporating as many security methods as possible, as there is no one stop solution. Keep in mind that for each security element you adopt, it does not stop a hacker from accessing your data, it just slows them down. Providers of security and network support in Ottawa should be contacted to ensure proper implementation of, and provide regular support for, the security controls incorporated into your environment as this will hopefully give your incident response team enough time to offset any damage the hacker can cause to your assets.