Fundamentally, what exactly is hacking? Is it simply entering a correct password for a security system? Or does breaking digital security involve more?

Unfortunately, hacking is gaining access to a computer system that the owner does not want you to have access to.

This is unfortunate for a number of reasons:

  1. The owner does not need to state that they don't want you to have access.
  2. The owner does not have to explicitly state rules for use of the system.
  3. Hacking could be overuse of a system through legitimate means or a use that the system owner did not intend but explicitly allows through software design.

This is a good example, in my opinion, of a circumstance where the law has not caught up to technology. Instead of laying out a clear-cut set of rules for behavior, it basically holds your life at the mercy and discretion of system owners.

This needs to be fixed so that this (United States v. Swartz - Wikipedia) never happens again.

Hacking, fundamentally is managing to get unauthorized access to a network or a system.

So by definition it would be bypassing every single security features used to protect this system.

In the case of access protected by password hacking it can be :

  • Using a real password you found by tricking a user into giving it to you
    • You can ask the personn his password while pretending to be from the IT dep (social engineering)
    • You can design a fake website looking like the original and expect someone to log to it (phishing)
    • You can make a MITM attack to trick the user into entering his credentials in a fake website even tough he accessed the right adress in his browser (Man in the middle)
  • Using a real password you found by looking at other hacked databases of password/username pairs and exploiting the fact most people reuse passwords
  • Finding a flaw in the system so that you access it without even using a password
  • ...

I am just sharing my piece of thought, can't say they are totally correct or not.

According to me, fundamentally hacking is getting access to someone's information/data without their authorization in layman terms. Now data could be stored in any storage device. Consider the storage devices to be like houses of a city/town. Now security of every house varies. To enter a house without owner acknowledgement you would need a loophole in the security of house to break in the house. To exploit the loophole you would need a solution. Now suppose, there's a simple house with simple key lock mechanism over it's main gate. The loophole here in security is if somehow you break the lock, you could easly use or steal the things in that house . To get inside the house you would need a similar key that fits in the lock. Now for similar key, you could either use a pocketknife or wire as shown in movies or get the same duplicate key. In the world of hacking, a software is given the commands that a particular combo (in case of house stealing a particular design) will lead to access. Now figuring out that combo needs an alogrithm. So hacking could also be solution to an alogrithm that would be of design to exploit the loophole

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