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How to Think Like a Hacker: An Anatomy of Cyber Attacks

duration Duration: 1 Teaching Period

unit code Unit Code: CYB60001

contact hours Contact Hours: Recommended 10 hours of study per week

About this unit

Understanding the adversary is the first step to countering cybersecurity threats. This unit introduces the field of cybersecurity by focusing on the mindsets, methods and motivations of the key actors: hackers. Hackers often tap into basic social norms and mores, such as people’s desire to be helpful and friendly, as well as seeing gaps in processes – and having a willingness to exploit them. Their motivations for doing so can be from diverse range of reasons, from simple curiosity and intellectual challenge to financial gain, to political causes, whether it’s state-sponsored attacks and intelligence gathering to ‘hacktivism’.


  • Social history of hackers
  • Motivations of hackers: criminal, financial gain, state-sponsored, hacktivism, mischief (‘script kiddies’), curiosity and notoriety
  • Types of attacks (packet injection, man in the middle, phishing, spear phishing, advanced persistent threats, candy drops etc.)
  • Social engineering and the human factors in security
  • Physical security and its relation to protecting digital assets (e.g. tailgating staff through security controlled doors)
  • The self in cyberspace – identity
  • How to source and hunt threat intelligence e.g. Unit 42

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