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(also back hacking, hack-back)

Back-hack definition

A back-hack is a counteractive measure where an attacked victim attempts to trace or hack back into the offender’s system. This reactive approach aims to identify the predator, gather evidence, or sometimes retaliate. Though it can provide valuable information, back-hacking often treads on shaky legal and ethical grounds.

See also: advanced penetration testing

Examples of back-hack

  • Identification of source. After detecting an unauthorized entry, a company traces the intrusion back to its origin. By doing so, they discover a compromised server acting as the perpetrator’s launchpad.
  • Retrieval of stolen data. Upon realizing that sensitive data has been stolen, a victim penetrates the offender’s system. They manage to reclaim their stolen files before they’re exploited or sold.
  • Evidence gathering for prosecution. A breached organization identifies a digital intruder’s signature move. They then infiltrate the assailant’s network to gather evidence.
  • Counter-attack on the attacker. In retaliation to a cyber-attack, a company employs its cybersecurity team to disrupt the hacker’s operations. They release a worm that cripples the assailant’s infrastructure temporarily.
  • Mapping the intruder’s network: Post-breach, a victimized entity dives into the intruder’s digital realm. The exploration reveals multiple compromised systems and help other potential targets bolster their defenses.

Further reading

Ultimate digital security