Is Hacking Easy?

Is Hacking Easy? (Learn How & Get Paid)

Computer hacking looks so cool on TV and in the movies. It’s no wonder so many people want to be able to hack too. But just how difficult it is to learn may be surprising to some.

This article will answer your questions about hacking. Learn hacker terms and find out how much work it takes. And if you’re up for the challenge, there are places you can learn. It’s all available online for free. Finally, you may be able to make a career out of computer hacking if you’re good enough.

Hacking is not easy because it takes a lot of trial and error to be successful. Cybersecurity experts spend a lot of time and money to make it hard to hack. Still, there are many jobs and learning opportunities for ethical hackers.

Is Hacking Hard?

Hacking is hard. That’s why not just anybody can do it. The types of people who become hackers are already intelligent before they learn the skill. Learning what you need to know to be successful takes a lot of time and patience.

Most People Give Up

The reason why most people give up before they succeed because they underestimate how difficult the process can be. They also are not willing to put in the time and effort they need.

Hacking is made more difficult because of cybersecurity specialists such as myself. Think of any sport with teams. You are constantly working against other players and your success only depends on being better than your opponents. Companies spend a lot of time and money trying to prevent people from becoming successful hackers.

But even so, as is true in the technology field as a whole things change very quickly. Hackers as well as security professionals are constantly improving and coming up with new tactics that work.

I believe that hacking will always exist. So if you wanted to learn the basics of becoming a hacker your new skills would not be a waste. There are many resources available that make learning possible.

Continue reading to learn more. But first we must start with the basics to set a solid foundation of knowledge.

What is Hacking?

The definition may differ depending on who you ask. But the meaning of hacking is to bypass computer security. Another synonym would be a workaround. The off-line term life-hack borrows from this concept. This is when you find a solution to a problem.

A hacker is someone who tries to gain access to computers or information they do not have permission for. When a hacker is successful, the controlled computer is called a zombie. Multiple zombie computers are called a botnet.

When hacking started it was much simpler. Computers were new and the need for strong security was not apparent. As the internet grew personal information became more accessible. Now there is an epic battle between hackers and cybersecurity experts.

Hacking actually works primarily by the use of vulnerabilities. They find them within the design of a piece of software. This reveals information the programmer never intended to release. This information includes username passwords and other sensitive information such as credit card information account numbers another personal identification information.

Difference Between Hacking and Cracking

Cracking refers specifically to activities involving encrypted obfuscated or otherwise scrambled data. Hacking is a broad term that covers more activity.

For example, a programmer using JavaScript may obfuscate their code in order to make it more difficult for someone to understand how the program works.  When viewing this kind of code, it appears to be messy and hard to follow. A code-cracker would then attempt to find a pattern that would translate this back into a more understandable format.

Alternatively, you would consider a hacker to be someone who discovers this code. They may exploit a loophole that compromises hidden protected data. I cover this at length in this article here about JavaScript obfuscation.

Difference Between Hacker and Scammer

A scammer is someone who steals by deception. Often scammers are referred to as hackers because it is an umbrella term. And the scammer may obtain personal information. However, scammers refer to someone whose motivation is strictly making money. They may try to get personal information about you in order to steal your identity.

Or they may try to trick you into sending them money under the belief they are someone else. This is a very popular tactic with scammers calling from the 876 area code. You can learn more about 876 area code scams in this article.

Difference Between Coding and Hacking

A difference between a hacker and a programmer is typically one is on offense and one is on defense. Programmers built software using a coding language. It is their job to build a program with built and safety nets that make it difficult for hackers to be successful.

Meanwhile, it is the hacker’s job to attack this program and exploit any vulnerabilities left open by the programmer. While it is not necessary for all hackers to know a programming language it certainly helps.

Difference Between Hacker and Hacktivist

The major difference between these is the motivation behind the hacks. Some hackers do it for notoriety, a sense of accomplishment, as a form of punishment against their enemies, for monetary gain, and other various reasons.

However, hacktivists as the name would imply are a blend of hacker and activist. So their primary motivation is typically attacks against perceived enemies.

For example, someone who promotes the ethical treatment of animals may try to shut down the website of a cosmetic or other company they perceive as being detrimental to their values. Alternatively, hackers could try to wipe out debt such as student loans as a form of protest.

Difference Between Hacking and Phishing

Hacking and phishing are two different methods that achieve the same result. A hacker may exploit a vulnerability in a website so that it exposes sensitive information. The type of hack they use depends on the weaknesses that are commonly associated with the platform.

For example, if a website has a contact form, the use of SQL injection may be used. A scammer using the phishing method would be a less sophisticated attack.

Hacking is more of a technical skill as opposed to phishing which is more of a social exploit. Generally, a scammer will send a spoofed email to users of the platform in order to trick them into revealing sensitive information. The user does this thinking they are interacting with legitimate authority.

Types of Hacking

The following is a list of hacking attacks. These are the most common types we see today. It is a good idea to familiarize yourself with these. If you want to become an ethical hacker, you may use one or more. Otherwise, it’s a good idea to understand what kind of hacking exists to better protect yourself.

Common Hacking Techniques
Social Engineering
Brute Force
Denial of Service
Man-in-the-Middle Attacks
SQL Injection does not recommend or condone any of these tactics. They are merely for informational purposes.

Social Engineering

In addition to vulnerabilities in programming, another target of attacks by hackers are the users. Hackers use social engineering to obtain personal information directly from a victim. The difference between spoofing and hacking is there is no need for programming or to exploit any software.

One of the most popular ways how hacking is done is by spoofing. This is the practice of disguising yourself to mislead the victim into believing the source of a message is from a legitimate source. Sometimes a hacker emails spam hoping the victim responds.

For example, you may get an email from someone in your contact list asking for sensitive information or to send them money. Often these emails do not actually come from a person you know. But instead a scammer you spoofing to send an email disguised as one sent from this person.

To read more about spoofing I have a full article about receiving spam emails from people in your contact list.

Brute Force

Basically, if you know the username of someone and you continue to guess their password until a combination works. This is typically something you would do very quickly. A computer code can do this hundred of thousands of times until the correct password is guessed.

A hacker can do this manually. But it would take forever. Websites also typically put some safeguards in place. These lock accounts when the website recognizes this kind of attack. Too many incorrect passwords being entered is a big indicator.

How long it would take for a brute force attack to be successful is one of the criteria for determining how strong a generated password is. Depending on the complexity, it could take days or even years before all combinations or attempted. My article about password generators covers password security in more detail.


Viruses can include malware, adware, ransomware, and more. This malicious software may be distributed through email attachments, links on a webpage, or downloads. You may think you are downloading one thing when it’s really a virus.

Malware can include keyloggers that track what you type on your keyboard and send it back to the hacker. Now they know what website you typed in, your username, and password. Adware as the name implies will fill your screen with spam and other advertisements. Finally, ransomware will limit your ability to use your computer unless you pay the hacker a ransom.

Denial of Service

Denial of service (DoS) is an example of a hacker attack on a server. The most likely targets are webservers that host websites. The attacker floods the server with so much information it can’t keep up. This makes it unavailable to others. There’s a lot more information in my article about the Slowloris DoS attack.

Man-in-the-Middle Attacks

Also known as Session Hijacking, this consists of a hacker intercepting the flow of data between a user and a server. It occurs mostly in nonsecure communications. The user thinks they are sending and receiving data from one source. But a hacker is obtaining these communications.

One way to limit the impact of these kinds of attacks is by using encryption. Make sure you are visiting websites that start with HTTPS instead of just HTTP. Also, the use of a virtual private network (VPN) is another good idea. My article about the security of VPNs can give you an idea of which one to use.

SQL Injection

While not limited to SQL, this consists of inputting coding into a program that interferes with its normal operation. Websites have many places where they accept input from users such as a login page, search boxes, and contact forms. Instead of entering the information the hacker inputs into a database, it may expose the information it already contains.

For more information on these methods and more, my article about how hackers find vulnerabilities does into more detail.

Examples of Hacking in Real Life

Russian Hackers

An example of a nation-state hacker would be the infamous Russian hacker. Along with China, these two countries have a very strong programming community. Because of this, hackers are hired for their abilities by the government.

This can be as simple as making the country more secure from outside attacks. But there is also the idea of hackers being the new spies. Consider the possibilities if hackers could launch nukes.

Facebook Account Hacks

Because Facebook is still so widely used, it is a common target of hackers. What makes it so valuable is the treasure trove of personal information it contains. Users put their lives on display for others. This can be as detailed as what they ate for lunch.

More importantly, it can tell hackers the stores and websites they frequent. Now the hacker knows where to use the victim’s information. Facebook can also give clues such as names of their pets and the street the person grew up on. Now the hacker may be able to guess security questions.

Hacking Zoom Meetings

Zoom is a video chat system used for personal and business interactions. But with so much communication being transmitted over the internet, issues with zoom hacking are on the rise. Some of the Zoom hacking concerns are the possibility of hacking into a chat to intercept proprietary company data.

The best Zoom hacking prevention reflects the best practices already promoted for other cybersecurity concerns. Not sharing login information between friends and coworkers is at the top of the list. Using a secure connection such as a VPN is equally important.

Is Hacking Illegal?

Hacking is illegal in the U.S. and all other countries.

When the hacker does not have permission to access data or intends to interfere with a service, it is a crime. Hacking is in most cases a felony. The degree of the felony depends on the location where it occurs. Each state and the federal government decide independently the severity of the charges.

In addition to the act of hacking, the tools used are also illegal when used to commit a crime. The tools used for white hat and black hat hackers are the same. It is how they use the tools that make the difference.

The only exception when hacking is legal is white hat (ethical) hacking. The hacker needs to have permission in advance.

The reason why hacking is illegal is that people have the right to privacy. They should also be able to be secure in their property and data. Hacking someone’s phone is illegal because it exposes information about the person they want to keep private.

I have another article that specifically addresses the legality of hacking a video game.

Jail for Hacking

You can get arrested and go to jail for hacking. The jail time depends on the seriousness of what the hack affected. They also take into consideration any criminal history the hacker has. If you think just because it’s a prank or involves social media you won’t be prosecuted, you are wrong. The police will investigate Facebook hacking.

Because hacking is mostly a felony, these often result in sentences of over a year in jail. They also include fines that could add up to over $1,000. This does not include the cost of hiring an attorney or paying restitution.

Actual Cases

Take into consideration the following three examples of hackers who have been caught. These examples of hacking cases may change your mind about becoming anything other than an ethical hacker.

According to the U.S. Department of Justice, a 21-year-old man from Switzerland hacked the websites of various companies and government agencies. He then shared the programming source code on the internet. This is illegal because this proprietary code is considered property owned by the victims. Also, sharing this information may be assisting others to commit further crimes.

A 29-year-old Russian hacker faces up to 10 years in prison for running a website for hackers. There they could buy and sell stolen credit card information in order to steal money.

In 2017, a man from Akron Ohio used DDoS (Distributed Denial of Service) attacks against the local police department. When he was caught he admitted to being a hacktivist with a grudge. He was sentenced to 6 years in prison for these hacks.

Don’t do it. As a generic disclaimer, is a warning that you should not hack unless it’s ethical. This should not come as much of a surprise. If you look at all of our articles it’s pretty clear to see where our motivations lie. is dedicated to helping the victims of hackers and scammers.

Is There Legal Hacking?

Ethical Hacking

There is a legal form of hacking called ethical hacking. The person who does this is a white hat hacker.

The different types of hackers simply refer to their motivations. A white-hat hacker has the good intention to identify vulnerabilities. This way they can be fixed to prevent malicious hacking. Ethical hackers may also have the neutral motivation of improving their skills.

There is an important distinction between other types of hackers. Regardless if they are helpful or neutral, their intentions are never to cause harm. They do not want the target of their hacks to be affected or create any kind of interruption. This means they are not attacking the target. Instead, they are testing the target’s level of security and the hacker’s ability to defeat it.

Example of Ethical Hacking

An example of white hat hacking in the real world is contests and other programs that welcome penetration testing by hackers (pen testers). Some companies welcome the discovery of vulnerabilities so they can be fixed. This is the case with Google’s Project Zero Blog. An example is an open-source software that becomes more secure by virtue of trial and error.

Other Types of Hackers

Black Hat Hacking

A blackhat hacker is obviously the opposite of a whitehat hacker. This means their motivations are the reverse and they intend to do harm or to personally benefit as a result of a hack.

An example of a black hat hacker would be using an attack such as a denial of service attack. They can attempt to make the target website or resource unavailable to other users. This is how hackers shut down the internet but only for that one website.

Another motivation can be financial as hackers can steal personal information for identity theft and financial gain as a result. They can also steal sensitive information and use it as a form of ransom. They threaten to release the information they have obtained if the victim does not pay the ransom. An example of this can be seen in an article about the Ashley Madison website hack

Grey Hat Hacker

Hackers who are opportunistic and do not always intend their actions to be harmful are considered grey hat hackers. This is clearly because it is a mix between being a white and a black hat. Some of their activity can be illegal but their motivations change. An example of a grey hat hacker is a hacktivist who may break the law but acts for moral good.

Red Hat Hacker

There is much debate in the cybersecurity circles surrounding ret hat hackers. For some people, this term does not exist at all. While others believe it is based on confusion with the Red Hat Linux operating system.

However, in the context of types of hackers, red hat hackers are vigilantes. You can consider them to associate more with white hat hackers. This is because their attacks target black hat hackers. Though their methods are often illegal which differentiates them from their white hat allies.

Should You Learn Hacking?

Hackers are real and you can be one too. But before you decide if it’s right for you, consider why you want to learn. Hackers can be either good or bad. Hackers can be dangerous depending on their motivations. Or they can help prevent crimes. If you want to learn a fun skill and challenge yourself, it could be right for you.

When deciding between ethical hacking vs hacking, consider this. Are your actions something you can be proud of? If you only want to cause someone else headaches or benefit financially, it’s not worth the trouble.

Hackers are important because too often programmers do not spend enough time on security. They fail to anticipate safety measures at the time their project is coded. This leads to a more defensive approach. Something is only done after an attack has occurred. Now there is a victim. Why you should learn ethical hacking is to prevent victims.

So if you have motivations to be an ethical hacker be warned. Despite your motivations, the activities you do without advanced permission can be seen as a crime. You would be performing the same activities and accessing the same information as any other hacker. This can make you susceptible to the same charges and jail time as if your motivations were bad.

How to Become a Hacker

To become a hacker there are two paths. One is through an overwhelming devotion of time and free tutorials. I recommend doing as much research online through Google and YouTube as you can. There are plenty of ethical hacking tutorials that can be found for free.

One source I find exceptional value in is the channel NetworkChuck on YouTube. It’s clear to see he takes his work very seriously. He has invested a lot of time and money in his gear. But he doesn’t seem to take himself too seriously and is fun and entertaining to watch.

The second path is quicker and involves the use of ethical hacking courses. On YouTube, you can learn the basics of hacking. But as you advance it may be beneficial for you to start taking courses. They may be needed for employment or to better learn advanced skills. The fees are usually high so start with the free path until you know the investment will pay off.

You can find the best training courses to become a certified ethical hacker at Udemy. Again, the qualifications for an ethical hacking job may require some kind of certification. This is the way to prove you know what you’re doing.

Do You Need to Know Programming?

You do not need to know how to program before you start hacking. If you know one beforehand it will certainly help. Otherwise, I recommend researching Javascript and Python.

What’s more important than the language you learn is the operating system you use. Most hackers use Linux because it offers the most flexibility. If all you know is Windows or iOS, you need to learn Linux.

Hackers are smart and will adapt to the environment they need to be successful. What you don’t know, be willing to learn.

Where to Practice Hacking

Hack The Box is one of the best hacker simulators around. There you can do real hacking but in a fake environment. There you can gain knowledge and experience as a hacker without the legal implications.

Hack The Box: Hacking Training For The Best | Individuals & Companies

Ethical Hacking Jobs

Hackers are hired by companies all of the time. Only, they typically don’t advertise for hackers. Instead, they use other terms. When looking for a job or full career in hacking, the position you are really looking for is a cybersecurity consultant. The word hacker has a negative connotation but from reading this article they can be beneficial.

The salary as an ethical hacker can be very rewarding. This is because of the technical knowledge it requires. Not just anyone can walk in the door and apply. If this is something you think you’re ready for, I recommend Critical Start.

Managed Detection & Response and Cybersecurity Consulting Services – Critical Start


Even though hacking is not easy, your investment of time and money is worth it.

Whether you are trying to be the best hacker in the world or kill time, hacking can be fun. Technology continues to advance and change the world. That’s why hacking will never stop. Hacking will never die and ethical hackers will always be in demand by companies willing to pay a handsome reward.

The purpose of writing this article is not as an introduction to how to hack. But to lay the groundwork for people who are interested in ethical hacking so that websites and systems are safer.

The articles on are dedicated to scams that often overlap with hacking. See our blog to learn more.