The Hacking Games Alert!

Contributor: Jay Gregorio. Lesson ID: 13229

Life hacks are great! Digital hacks are not! Learn the ways hackers access private information, damage files, and delete entire websites, networks, and systems. Can you protect yourself? Find out!


Computer Science, Software and Applications

learning style
Auditory, Visual
personality style
Grade Level
Middle School (6-8), High School (9-12)
Lesson Type
Dig Deeper

Lesson Plan - Get It!

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  • Have you ever heard of the term malware?

hacked computer 

Malware is short for malicious software, which is a computer program designed to get into your computer and access all its information without you knowing. Hackers secretly install malware on computers, so they can access and even transmit private information!

  • Sounds scary, doesn't it?

Hackers are skillful, and their tactics get more sophisticated all the time.

  • Are there ways to avoid exposure to malware or anything else that could possibly damage your computer?

In this lesson, you will explore strategies to keep yourself safe all the time!

Computers and the internet have been a daily part of your entire life, unlike your parents.

That means you probably know quite a bit about staying safe online and how to protect yourself against cyber-crimes. Unfortunately, there seem to be more and more scams and hacks to look out for all the time.

Keeping yourself safe is all about knowing how your actions online affect your privacy and security.

The hacking of computer systems is one of the cyber threats that increases every year worldwide.

  • What is hacking?
  • Is hacking always illegal?

These are just some of the questions you will explore in this lesson.

What Is Hacking?

hacker in the dark

Hacking is any online activity where the weakness of a computer or device's system is identified for the purpose of gaining access to it.

It is considered an unlawful act when the intent is to access information for financial gain, steal private information, spy, and other fraudulent activities. Sometimes, hackers do it just for the challenge and fun of it.

  • But, what does it do?

If a bank's system is hacked, for example, it can expose the company's financial information and transmit their customers' private information, which is a huge privacy issue.

Hacking into a company's system could lead to its large collection of files being deleted outright or relocated to somewhere the company does not have access. As a preventive measure, companies spend millions of dollars adding more reliable security features to improve their systems.

Not all hackers intend to steal information. Some simply add a virus to completely shut down a system.

Hackers typically have insane programming skills that allow them to go beyond the original system programmer's intent. This means they can usually find a loophole in even the most complex software programs.

The different types of hacking activities can be categorized based on what is being hacked:

Website hacking is the illegal access or control of a web server and its associated software such as databases and other interfaces.

If you visit a website only to find the information is no longer available or has been replaced with something unrelated or even inappropriate, the website has likely been hacked.

Network hacking is the illegal access or control of a wireless network, usually with the intent of slowing or stopping its operation.

If you are using the free WiFi at a coffee shop, a hacker may be able to gain access to your device through the shared internet connection.

Email hacking is the unauthorized use of someone's email account without the knowledge of the owner.

If a hacker gains access to your email account, he or she would be able to send out emails to your entire contact list pretending to be you.

Password hacking is the illegal recovery of passwords from data that has been stored in or transmitted by a computer system.

If a hacker cracks into your bank's internal data, he or she might be able to retrieve your password for that website. Now, if you reuse that password on other websites, the hacker will have access to those as well.

Ethical hacking is the process of defending and finding weaknesses in a computer or network system for testing purposes.

A company may hire a cybersecurity hacker who will try to hack its system in order to improve the overall security.

  • What about you?
  • What can hackers do to your system?

Things That Hackers Can Do

Remember that hackers can quietly install malware on your devices with the intent of damaging it, stealing information, or simply causing an issue that is difficult or even impossible to resolve.

Common malware that can affect your devices includes Trojan horses, spyware, ransomware, and viruses.

  • Once hackers are able to gain access to your system, what can they do?

Hackers can:

  • override your usernames and passwords, preventing you from logging onto the device or any accounts.
  • request a new Personal Identification Number (PIN) for your bank account.
  • use your Social Security Number to access your private information.
  • make purchases or transfer funds under your name.
  • sell your information to others who can use it for unlawful activities.

A good hacker will know your online behavior. So it is important for you to understand their behaviors and watch out for any red flags!

Watch Hackers & Cyber Attacks: Crash Course Computer Science #32 from CrashCourse:

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Things You Can Do

  • Do not open emails or text messages from groups, companies, or people you don't know.
  • Avoid clicking on any links sent to your email by an unknown sender.
  • Install or update your security software products on a regular basis.
  • Think before you open any unknown or questionable websites.
  • Delete messages that you believe are considered spam.

More About Ethical Hacking

Not all hacking is illegal.

Ethical hacking, commonly called penetration testing, is a deliberate and purposeful way of hacking a system to test whether its protection is reliable or not.

Companies hire qualified penetration testers to help them defend their own systems from being hacked. These testers are performing cybersecurity, which is the practice of protecting systems from digital attacks.

While a company's sensitive information is usually protected in multiple layers, hacking attacks continue to become more sophisticated. Therefore, the demand for experts in cybersecurity will continue to grow.

A huge part of our lives depends on accurate and reliable systems that function safely and efficiently.

In the Got It? section, you will be review and answer questions related to hacking.

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