Hacking Terms

Hacking Terms

Hacking, like many specialty areas, has jargon that is hacking specific. While hacking terms will explain many of the techniques in simpler terms for newbie hackers, here are some basic terms to start out with. If you are familiar with computers, you may already be familiar with these terms.

In addition to basic terminology, you will find descriptions of some of the activities carried out by gray-hat and black-hat hackers. These are intended to show you some of the possibilities you can achieve with hacking and programs that they can be written. They will also show you some of the things you should be aware of and protect yourself against in case you come across opposable forces as you start hacking. Let’s start exploring important hacking terms.


This is a type of software designed by hackers with the intent of forcefully displaying ads on your computer. Often, hackers are paid by companies who want their ads seen- even if spamming is necessary to do it. Adware is a hassle because it can cause rapid pop-ups on your computer screen, resulting in slower system functions because it ties up your computer’s resources.


Spyware ‘spies’ on the target, by tracking computer use. Simpler spyware may track searching habits, displaying more relevant results in your searches. Other types of spyware can track your keystrokes to collect information (like your password), display pop-up ads, or direct you to a different homepage or website. It is common for spyware to be used alongside adware.


A computer virus is a code or program with malicious intentions. It gets into your system by attaching itself to another file, either a corrupted download or through media sharing. Ideally, the virus will come into contact with a computer that is part of a larger network of computers. This makes it easier for the virus to spread. The virus is popular amongst hacking terms.


A worm is similar to a computer virus; however, it is a self-contained program. A worm is not integrated with anything else because it is programmed to copy and transfer its programming to various computers in a network. The best worms do not even need user interaction to infiltrate a computer.


Malware is a catch-all term that encompasses software that infects a computer and programs it to behave in a certain manner. The purpose of malware can vary greatly. For example, one kind may threaten to erase or corrupt computer files unless a ransom is paid, while another may steal your personal information and send/sell it to identity thieves. Malware is popular amongst hacking terms.


A keylogger tracks keystrokes or clicks of the mouse. While computers often encrypt data before sending it across the server, it is not encrypted until it is input. Keyloggers take advantage of the window between the data being input by the keyboard/mouse and the information being encrypted by the computer. It is for this reason that secure sites like banks or those requiring your social security number may offer an online keyboard to you.


A cyberattack describes a hacker using an electronic device, like a computer, to steal information or otherwise cause harm. In some cases, cyberattacks may escalate into an event that causes mass disruption. When it reaches this point, it is known as a cyberwar. Cyberattack is popular amongst hacking terms.

Script Kiddie

A script kiddie either does not possess the knowledge or skill to hack or does not care to use it. Instead of writing their own codes, they maliciously hack or crack hardware or software with pre-written scripts, programs, or codes. They are not generally as talented as elite hackers (likely the type of people who wrote the pre-written program they are using), but they can still be dangerous.

Polymorphic Virus

This is one of the most advanced viruses. As its name suggests, a polymorphic virus morphs. It changes itself constantly by altering its digital footprint each time that it duplicates itself. This virus can even penetrate antivirus software since antivirus software works by detecting virus signatures. As the polymorphic virus changes its digital footprint to something, not in the database, it eludes the software.

Daisy Chaining

In computer hacking, daisy chaining is a term used to describe one of the most common practices of good hackers to avoid detection. Hackers access one computer and then another, and possibly another. They may use as many as 7 computers. Since they are entering through multiple networks, it is harder for them to be tracked.


Backtracking is commonly used by hackers to cover up their tracks, especially when using daisy-chaining. Backtracking is especially useful when hackers do not want the owner of the system to know they were there. This can allow multiple entries before the hacker is noticed. Backtracking is popular amongst hacking terms.


Payload is part of a malware system. It describes the area that executes the task that the specific type of malware was created for.


Many hackers take offense to the term ‘hacker’ since it is negatively looked upon. They refer to black-hat hackers as crackers, since they often crack into hardware or software systems to steal information or otherwise cause harm.

Back Door

In the development stage, it is not uncommon for program developers to create back doors, or entries through the backway of a program that allows you to bypass the security measures. Often, hackers may seek out back doors as a means of entry.


Hackers often use open WiFi networks to carry out tasks undetected or even to corrupt the network. The practice of wardriving involves driving around with a GPS and navigating how far open the WiFi networks range. This information is saved- either for the hacker to use at a later date or to be shared with other hackers. This practice is not limited to just driving. Synonymously, you may also hear the term warbiking or warwalking.

Zero Day Threat

A Zero Day threat is a previously undetected threat. The way that most antivirus software works are by comparing the digital footprint of programs to those of known viruses. If there is no documentation of a certain threat, the program is unable to detect it. A Zero Day threat describes the first day a threat is deployed to the date it is noticed or documented. Since being able to detect issues is essential to preventing viruses and malware and a Zero Day threat is nearly invisible, it is incredibly dangerous.

Shell Account

A shell account is a must for someone who wants to make it as an elite hacker. A shell account works with a Unix- or Linux-based system. It gives users the ability to give the computer direct commands using script, text, or other known commands. They are used with programming languages and allow different platforms to be compatible. The beauty of a shell account is that it allows you to control another computer remotely, helping increase your discreetness as you start hacking.

Easter Egg

Unlike viruses, an Easter egg is not malicious. They can often be found on a circuit board or inside a program. Easter eggs are intended to be hidden surprises and must be duplicated across all of the same devices or types of software. They are usually entertaining in nature and can be anything from a written message to a small program. Easter eggs are not obvious, as the developer usually intends hackers to explore the program to find them.


The group of people known as ‘phreakers’ is one of the original groups of black-hat hackers. Their techniques make use of phone calls and telecommunications servers to make calls. Often, tones of a whistle or electronic recording devices are used to make the system think the call is legitimate.


Spoofing is a technique used by even white-hat hackers when they want to cover their tracks. They may change the sender line of an email to make it look trusted. Then, it can download adware or spyware when you open it. It also describes practices like faking an IP address to avoid detection. Spoofing is popular amongst hacking terms.


This term stems from ‘robot’ since a bot is programmed to do a specific task. Bots can be harmless or harmful. For example, search engines use bots to search through websites, detecting key terms, and organizing them according to usefulness. In other cases, however, black-hats may use bots to complete destructive tracks everything from introducing malware to your network to overloading a server with a botnet.


A botnet consists of many zombies, or zombie drones, that carry out the duties of a black-hat hacker. It is common for these to be used for DDOS attacks (more on this soon). Often, the involved computers or networks are being operated under the control of the drone and do not even know they are part of the attack.

Master Program

This is a remote program that commands zombie drones a black-hat hacker has successfully infected. In most cases, a master program is used to control spam attacks or DOS attacks.

Denial of Service (DOS) Attack

This type of attack is common among hackers with good intentions. For example, they may use this kind of attack that supports a political argument they disagree with. A hacker sends data packets in large numbers to overwhelm the server, destroying its online presence by preventing others from accessing it online. This tack can be made more effective by sending malformed data, which places additional stress on the system. DOS Attack is popular amongst hacking terms.

Distributed Denial of Service (DDOS) Attack

Zombie drones or a botnet is used to carry out this attack. Rather than sending data packets from a single source, malformed and excessive data packets are sent from multiple servers. This overloads more than a DOS attack, effectively taking down even the largest websites.

Zombie/Zombie Drone

Zombies, or zombie drones, may also be called botnets. These ‘drones’ operate mindlessly, simply carrying out the tasks that a hacker has assigned to them. It is common for them to be used in DDOS attacks, often without the knowledge of the infiltrated network’s owner.



Firewalls are a protection for your computer, a barrier that keeps intruders ‘outside’ of the wall. Inside, the different users and systems can communicate safely. Firewall programs can be software- or hardware-based. For a firewall to be effective, it must be updated regularly. Hackers are always learning new tactics to gain unauthorized entry to your computer.


Trojan viruses are hard to detect since they are designed to look like legitimate programs that already exist on your computer. However, once it has infiltrated your computer it can steal important information like credit card numbers or passwords, destroy and alter information, or complete other sinister processes. In other instances, a Trojan is introduced and allowed to sit dormant until a hacker is ready to break into the system. Unlike a virus, a Trojan cannot replicate itself without help. It is still dangerous though, especially since its legitimate appearance makes it hard to detect for removal. The trojan is popular amongst hacking terms.


If you have e-mail, then you are probably familiar with what spam is. People sending spam often have long lists of e-mail addresses and they send e-mails to them all. While most spam is harmless, offering a service or a product, other types can direct you to dangerous websites or be used for phishing. When dealing with spam, the best practice is to delete it before opening it. Even clicking the link to unsubscribe can redirect you to a site that will download malware.

Logic Bomb

A logic bomb is a program with malicious intentions. The programmer sets certain criteria for the ‘bomb’ to go off. These malicious programs lay dormant until the user meets the criteria. For example, a certain file may need to be opened or a certain combination of letters may need to be pressed on the computer. Then, the task that the bomb has been set to do will begin.

Time Bomb

Like a logic bomb, a time bomb lies dormant until it is activated. Instead of criteria, however, a time bomb goes off on a specific date. It is not uncommon for hackers to use time bombs to make political statements, programming them to go off on the anniversary of 9/11 or Hitler’s birthday. Time bombs can be innocent or dangerous some may display pictures at a set time, while others can delete, steal, damage, or otherwise corrupt computer and network information.

Social Engineering

Social Engineering

Social engineering describes hacking practices used to uncover personal or sensitive information. This could include usernames, passwords, credit card information, or any other sensitive information. The tactics used include e-mails, phone calls, or social media schemes that may convince you to give out information. These people are incredibly convincing- never be afraid to make them identify who they are before giving out information.


Phishing is a type of social engineering attack, one that is usually sent out by e-mail with the intention of convincing the other party to provide personal information. In many cases, they look like authentic e-mails. They may even appear as if they have come from a well-known entity like a personal online account or a bank. It can redirect you to a bogus site. When you input your information on the bogus site, it is collected and used for cybercrime attacks against you.


A rootkit is one of the most advanced tools of a hacker- and one of the ones that should be feared the most when a black-hat hacker wants inside your system. A rootkit is a type of malware. It is often downloaded or transferred through e-mail, much like a virus. Once inside a program, a rootkit creates a backdoor that allows a hacker access to the system, often remotely and without authorization. One of the things that makes a rootkit so dangerous is that it functions at a low systems level. It can erase its own tracks, making it nearly impossible to detect. Hackers often use it with physical set-ups, installing it with a USB drive or CD to bypass the firewall for remote access of the system.

Dumpster Diving

Dumpster diving is an activity carried out by hackers interested in information of a business or individual. They will rummage through the trash bin, looking for information that may let them access the computer system or steal the person’s identity.


Cookies are information packets stored from visiting websites. They are stored within your web browser and make it easier to customize your visit to a site you have been to previously. This means you do not have to fill out the same forms each time that you visit the site.

Above all the hacking terms are very important and every hacker should have knowledge of that.


Era Innovator

Era Innovator is a growing Technical Information Provider and a Web and App development company in India that offers clients ceaseless experience. Here you can find all the latest Tech related content which will help you in your daily needs.

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