Internet Safety for Kids Episode 18 - Hacking explained

Internet Safety for Kids Episode 18 – Hacking explained

Hi, welcome to Internet Safety for Kids and thank you for joining our program!

As always with our program Internet Safety for Kids, please make sure to watch this episode together when possible, so you all learn and understand these important topics. Don’t allow the adults to say that they already know everything because there will be plenty to learn for them, too!

We hear a lot about hacking and hackers, but do we really know what that means? Are we always using these names correctly, or are we maybe calling things hacking which are not hacking at all? I bet we do, so this is our topic for today. No, we will not teach you how to hack other people or computers. We will explain what hacking is, and also what it is not.

We will explain why is it important, what does it mean, and what should you do. Are you with us?

You will easily find some news about hacking and hackers every single day, and there is a big problem with that. Because a lot of what is called hacking has in reality nothing to do with hacking. So, let us start with an example of hacking to give you a feeling of what hacking is. And what it isn’t!

Let us say that the cable to charge your smartphone is 1 meter long but the power socket is 2 meters away. You could move closer to the socket to solve that problem. You could use an extension cord to cover the distance. But then you realize that your game console is right in front of you, and it has a USB port which you can use to charge your smartphone. “LIFE HACK”, you shout happy about your smart idea. The USB port on your game console is designed to charge the controllers but you decided to use it for something else. Congratulations, you just hacked something.

Hacking is all about using something differently than what it was designed for. You can hack your bicycle if you want to. Hacking is not exclusively related to computers and devices, but when we hear about hacking, we tend to think it is. And to be honest, hacking computer systems is more popular than any other kind of hacking. Hacking a computer system does however also mean that you use it for something it was not designed for. Or, that you discover something that would allow others to do something which should not happen. Hackers do that a lot. They find so-called vulnerabilities in computer systems and devices.

What good hackers do is report that to the owners. “Hey, this is what I found, please fix it!” and many companies give pretty nice rewards for that. The hackers help them to constantly improve their products and fix security vulnerabilities. And that is important because cybercriminals are constantly on the lookout for those vulnerabilities so they can abuse them to cause damages. And that brings us to what is not hacking. Hacking has nothing to do with cybercriminals who harm others. Ransomware is not hacking; it is a criminal activity. Installing malware on someone’s system or breaking into someone’s account is not hacking. Those too are criminal activities.

Hacking something to find a weakness or to solve a problem is in fact something positive, something creative. It is even a very good way to learn about how technology works. Causing damages to others has nothing to do with hacking! Please follow our advice from Internet Safety for Kids to prevent that you become the victim of cybercriminals who falsely call themselves hackers. Let us make some notes to make sure we all understand what hacking means.

  • Hacking is using something for what it was not designed for.
  • Hacking is about finding a weakness or solving a problem.
  • Hacking is a great way to learn to understand technology.
  • When you find a weakness in a product or service, you should report it to the owners.
  • Causing damages and harming others has nothing to do with hacking.

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