Who's really responsible for hacker attacks

Monday, 14 July 2003, 8:57 AM EST

Good con artists are rarely spontaneous. They take time to observe their victims' behavior, then find subtle ways to exploit the predictable foibles of human nature. And, while the resulting scams may seem elaborate, once they're explained, you see how simple they really are.
The same is true with criminal hackers online. The best hacks have been accomplished without special tools or technology. What hackers need is time--to map target networks and then locate convenient ways in.

More often than not, hackers gain entrance to networks not through gaping software or hardware security holes, but through some sort of human error. Sometimes it's something as simple as forgetting to change the default password on a router. Famed hacker Kevin Mitnick made a career out of breaking into corporate systems not with technically complex exploits but with basic "social engineering."

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