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What Is a Hacking Tool?

By T.S. Adams
Updated May 16, 2024
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A hacking tool is a program or other application that can be used to break into a computer. Hacking tools tend to fall into two main categories: software which has been specifically designed to accomplish direct hacking, and accessory tools, which are not used directly for hacking but let the hacker know where vulnerabilities are in operating systems, computers, network hardware, and networks. Effective use of both types of tools allow a hacker to potentially infiltrate computer systems and networks.

Direct hacking software falls into one of two types: robust hacking programs and script kiddie tools. The first type of hacking tool is a full-fledged hacking program that can be used to perform a wide range of hacking tasks, such as infiltrating networks and exploiting security loopholes in operating systems and other types of applications. These robust hacking programs are designed with more technologically savvy hackers in mind, allowing them to customize and tailor their hacking experience as necessary to suit a wide variety of tasks.

Script kiddie tools are basic programs which allow less knowledgeable users to perform "by the book" hacking. In the hacking community, "script kiddies" are individuals who follow textbook instructions to perform a hack, without actually understanding the methods and process behind their actions. This second type of program allows script kiddies to perform basic hacking activities even in the absence of personal detailed knowledge of computer systems.

A second major type of hacking tool is an accessory program, which includes things like computer worms and port scanners. While these types of programs do not actually enable the hacker to access a system, they do scan systems and networks for potential vulnerabilities, giving the hacker a better idea of where to focus his or her efforts. Much like reading a building blueprint to find the weakest structural points prior to a demolition, an accessory hacking tool probes at programs and computers to give the hacker insight into the chinks in a program's "armor," making the actual act of hacking more efficient. Whereas port scanners find vulnerabilities in a computer system's network, worms typically search out holes in a computer's operating system.

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