Intruder Motivations

Several motivations might prompt someone to intrude on another's network. Although no text can list all the reasons that someone would decide to steal or corrupt data, some common themes become evident when looking at the motivations of previous intruders. To refine the discussion of intruder motivations, it is first necessary to define some terms. In the context of this chapter, intruder refers to someone who attempts to gain access to a network or computer system without authorization. Intruders can be further classified as phreakers, crackers, hackers, or script kiddies:

• Phreaker Phreakers are individuals who have extensive knowledge of telephone networks and switching equipment. Their goal is to gain free access to telephone networks so that they can make local and long-distance calls.

• Cracker Crackers use an advanced knowledge of networking and the Internet to compromise network security without proper authorization. Crackers are usually thought of as having a malicious intent.

• Hacker Hackers investigate the integrity or security of a network or operating system. Usually relying on advanced programming techniques, hackers' motivations are not always malicious. Ethical hackers is a term that refers to security consultants; companies often hire ethical hackers to test current defenses (and thus perhaps expose weaknesses).

• Script kiddie Script kiddies are novice hackers who rely heavily on publicly available scripts to test the security of a network and scan for vulnerabilities and weaknesses.

The dividing line between phreakers, crackers, hackers, and script kiddies is that phreakers, crackers, and hackers tend to be more skilled and normally develop their own tool sets; script kiddies, on the other hand, tend to be less skilled and use publicly available scripts. The motivation for someone to attempt to access, alter, or disrupt a network differs for each intruder. Some of the most common motivations are discussed in the following sections.

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