Inside a Hacker’s Head

hacker2From the 1995 film Hackers to the 2015 Blackhat starring Chris Hemsworth, the movies have often dramatized, demonized, and glorified the hacking lifestyle. The reality is much less glamorous, with results that range from minor annoyances to serious infiltrations costing millions of dollars. As one average user among many, you may find it hard to imagine why a hacker would ever want to target you. Explore some of the key motives that drive these attackers from cyberspace.

Love of Money

Two of the biggest motivators in the world are money and power, and the same holds true in the realm of hacking. Hackers, also dubbed “black hats” or “crackers,” often do what they do for no reason other than monetary gain. They hunt for bank account numbers, PINs, Social Security numbers, credit card information, and social media account data, all with the purpose of exploiting that personal information and stealing money.

Thirst for Secrets

Some hackers go after other kinds information. They may target government servers and networks to obtain classified data related to national security, or they may access information from large corporations and sell it to competing companies. Whether it’s government secrets, company prototypes, or military objectives, these individuals are still primarily after monetary rewards, accumulating knowledge as a side benefit.

Proof of Power

Sometimes, a hacker will break into a particular network simply to prove that he can. It’s a way of building a reputation or proving a point. Hackers are somewhat isolated out of necessity, but they do develop rivalries with each other; and even without a rival, a hacker may keep going for the sheer joy of solving a more difficult puzzle every time.

Care for a Cause

When a hacker is driven by a cause, such as a religious or political ideal, he is dubbed a “hacktivist.” For example, an animal-loving hacker might implement a denial-of-service attack against the website of a company known for testing its products on animals. The satisfaction of drawing attention to the problem and inconveniencing the “enemy” is reward enough for this type of hacker.

Hunger for Havoc

Take the hacktivist category a step further, and you find the cyber terrorists, who are intent on causing as much harm and disturbance as possible. They want to take control of major systems, destroy infrastructure, and inject terror into the hearts of their victims. Motivated by powerful belief, hatred, or the desire for revenge, these individuals use their skills for things far worse than political statements or theft.

Defense of the User

Of course, among all the bad guys there are the few, the proud─ the “white hat” hackers. These individuals could excel in the black hat arena, but they choose to work on the opposite side, often for ethical reasons. White hats help companies test their cyber-security, probing defenses and locating loopholes so that they can be plugged.

When you understand an individual’s motivation for cyber crime, you take one more step towards being able to protect yourself and your family. Think about reasons why a hacker might target your business, your home network, or an association with which you are connected. Once you see a possible angle of attack, you can put effective safeguards in place.

How To Protect Yourself

So what can you do to protect yourself from these hackers?  The first line of defense, of course, is to install antivirus software as well as antimalware software.  There are several great programs out there (you can find a bit more information on for various reviews) but you should do a bit of research on them before you buy.  A safe bet is of course Norton (which I use myself).  But ensure that you always have active protection on your computer.  Another strategy is to avoid internet “bad neighborhoods” which can be dangerous in terms of “drive by” installations of malware and spyware.

Sprouting Cyber Wings: Teaching Kids to Use the Computer

kidscomputerMaybe you want your kid to be the next cyber billionaire, or maybe you just want him or her to be able to be computer-literate in a tech-savvy world. Whatever your goals may be, you have to start somewhere! Discover some vital tips for teaching your child how to use a computer.

  1. Wait for the Right Moment

Don’t start too early. Let your little ones play, explore, and work on their fine motor skills until they are at least three years old. At that point, they have the cognitive skills and muscle coordination that they need to begin learning about computers. While you’re waiting to start them on their own tech journey, they are probably watching you move your mouse, point, click, and drag. By the time you begin the real teaching, they will already be familiar with the movements, and the learning curve will be a lot less dramatic.

  1. Pick Kid-Friendly Peripherals

Pick a mouse that fits into your kid’s hand, so he doesn’t have to wrangle your man-sized mouse. You can even get your kid involved in the process of picking out his own mouse. It’s an inexpensive way to let your children make a choice about their own computer peripherals.

If you like, you can also buy a kid-friendly keyboard. However, you may want to start your little one out with a grown-up keyboard so that they don’t have to transition later. Just make sure that the letters and symbols are clear, not worn off, and that the buttons are easy to press. For older kids, consider a typing program that teaches correct hand positioning and finger placement.

  1. Start with a Game

We’re not talking Minesweeper or Left 4 Dead. Make sure that the game you choose is both interesting and age-appropriate for your little one. Kids love colorful, musical games, and you want this first computer experience to be a lot of fun, not scary or boring.

You’ll probably have to do most of the clicking yourself during the first session, but it’s okay. Once you find a safe, age-appropriate game that your kid loves, she’ll be begging to grab the mouse and take control herself.

You can find excellent games for preschoolers on websites like,,, or If you want a website that teaches letters and numbers along with computer skills, try If your child still loves it after the free trial period, you can pay the minimal monthly subscription fee.

  1. Talk about Respect

As your child begins to get the hang of the mouse movements and the keyboard layout, talk about respecting the computer and respecting other users. Teach your young one that drinks and snacks do not have a place near the computer. Banging, pounding, or throwing the computer or its accessories is not allowed. The volume needs to be set at a level that is safe for the immediate users ears and considerate of the others in the room.

As your kids get older, discuss the presence of bad people on the internet. Have filtering software and security settings in place to protect your children, and teach them to avoid online users that make them feel bad or uncomfortable.

With a few ground rules and a little basic instruction, your young techies have sprouted their cyber wings. They’re flying into a new world of learning, communication, and information. While they may want to be independent, they’ll still need you to be there for them as they explore each new horizon, whether it’s online or in the real world.