Feb 29, 2012

Learn Ethical Hacking Basic: Session XVIII

Gaining Access
 As far as potential damage, this could be considered one of the most important steps of an attack. This phase of the attack occurs when the hacker moves from simply probing the network to actually attacking it. After the hacker has gained access, he can begin to move from system to system, spreading his damage as he progresses. 

Access can be achieved in many different ways. A hacker might find an open wireless access point that allows him a direct connection or the help desk might have given him the phone number for a modem used for out-of-band management. Access could be gained by finding a vulnerability in the web server’s software. If the hacker is really bold, he might even walk in and tell the receptionist that he is late for a meeting and will wait in the conference room with network access. Pity the poor receptionist who unknowingly provided network access to a malicious hacker. These things do happen to the company that has failed to establish good security practices and procedures. 
The factors that determine the method a hacker uses to access the network ultimately comes down to his skill level, amount of access he achieves, network architecture, and configuration of the victim’s network. 

Escalation of Privilege

Although the hacker is probably happy that he has access, don’t expect him to stop what he is doing with only a “Joe user” account. Just having the access of an average user probably won’t give him much control or access to the network. Therefore, the attacker will attempt to escalate himself to administrator or root privilege. After all, these are the individuals who control the network, and that is the type of power the hacker seeks. 

Privilege escalation can best be described as the act of leveraging a bug or vulnerability in an application or operating system to gain access to resources that normally would have been protected from an average user. The end result of privilege escalation is that the application performs actions that are running within a higher security context than intended by the designer, and the hacker is granted full access and control. 

Maintaining Access
Would you believe that hackers are paranoid people? Well, many are, and they worry that their evil deeds might be uncovered. They are diligent at working on ways to maintain access to the systems they have attacked and compromised. They might attempt to pull down the etc/passwd file or steal other passwords so that they can access other user’s accounts.

Rootkits are one option for hackers. A rootkit is a set of tools used to help the attacker maintain his access to the system and use it for malicious purposes. Rootkits have the capability to mask the hacker, hide his presence, and keep his activity secret. They will be discussed in detail later on in the class.

Sometimes hackers might even fix the original problem that they used to gain access, where they can keep the system to themselves. After all, who wants other hackers around to spoil the fun? Sniffers are yet another option for the hacker and can be used to monitor the activity of legitimate users. At this point, hackers are free to upload, download, or manipulate data as they see fit. 

Covering Tracks and Placing Backdoors
Nothing happens in a void, and that includes computer crime. Hackers are much like other criminals in that they would like to be sure to remove all evidence of their activities. This might include using rootkits or other tools to cover their tracks. Other hackers might hunt down log files and attempt to alter or erase them. 

Hackers must also be worried about the files or programs they leave on the compromised system. File hiding techniques, such as hidden directories, hidden attributes, and Alternate Data Streams (ADS), can be used. As an ethical hacker, you will need to be aware of these tools and techniques to discover their activities and to deploy adequate countermeasures. 

Backdoors are methods that the hacker can use to reenter the computer at will. The tools and techniques used to perform such activities are discussed later on in the class. At this point, what is important is to identify the steps. 

                  Learn Ethical Hacking Basic: Session XVI
                                   Learn Ethical Hacking Basics Session 4
                                  Learn How to Break Into A Windows PC
                                  Ethical Hacking Basics Session 1 & 2 


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