IT Security | System Administration

Darth Vader as hacker – From the dark side to the darknet

05. October 2023, Avatar of Andreas KlareAndreas Klare

In a galaxy far, far away in a time far from our imagination, there existed one of the most iconic and formidable villains in the history of cinema – a Sith Lord named Darth Vader. For IT pros, the ultimate adversary is usually the relentless and anonymous hacker. Both seem invincible, but are they really?

In short

  • Today we compare Darth Vader and hackers. Both share the art of manipulation and have deep expertise in their respective worlds.
  • Hackers often act anonymously and hide their identity, much like Darth Vader behind his mask.
  • While both seem invincible at first glance, they lack the right alliances and defenses.

Editor’s note: This is the latest episode in our series of articles exploring the interesting parallels between everyday IT and the Star Wars saga. In Episode 2, we took a closer look at the OT/building-automation technology in the Death Star.

Cybersecurity: How hackers use the art of manipulation

From his distinctive armor to his fearsome voice to his ruthless fighting style, Darth Vader represents seemingly invincible evil. But his greatest strength was that he was a master manipulator. He could use the power of the Dark Side to influence others, impose his will and draw followers to his side.

Likewise, a hacker has mastered the art of manipulating computers, systems and people. Using their technical and social engineering skills, hackers can bypass security measures and gain access to sensitive information. In our world, such manipulation often consists of phishing emails disguised as routine correspondence from a customer, supplier, or colleague containing malevolent links that can trigger a ransomware attack, for example.

According to a report by US telecommunications company Verizon, 36% of all data leaks can be attributed to phishing. Verizon also reports a ransomware or phishing attack occurred every 11 seconds worldwide in 2022.

Other attacks aim to obtain data and information without authorization and use it to cause further damage. The attacker exploits software or operating system vulnerabilities to gain access and remain undetected for as long as possible. Just imagine if Darth Vader had obtained personal data from the rebels. Then the rest of the saga would have come to a quick and sad end.

Find and sabotage vulnerabilities: The dark side of hacker groups

Darth Vader also expertly piloted every space fighter and skillfully directed space battles. Hackers have a comparably deep understanding when it comes to technical systems. They are able to decipher complex codes and find security holes. Darth Vader’s technical prowess in his galaxy and a hacker’s skills in today’s digital space are impressive and apply a high level of expertise.

And it seems to pay off: 51% of all attacks on the economy in 2022 already came from organized crime groups. Hacker groups offer stolen data on the darknet, demand ransom payments and sabotage competitors to finance activities and train members. Some hacker groups have corporate-like structures and operations.

Masked and anonymous adversaries on the net

Even Star Wars newbies recognize Darth Vader’s iconic black mask. It hid his disfigured face, concealed his true identity and maintained his anonymity. Hackers also conceal their identities and often leave no trace of their activities. This makes it difficult to detect and stop their harmful machinations and bring them to justice.

For example, the masking used by the hacker group Anonymous is almost as well-known as Darth Vader’s mask. The politically motivated and controlled group has been mounting attacks against institutions in Russia for years. However, attacks in Europe and the US are rising, sometimes to extort money or to sabotage critical infrastructure. Like Darth Vader, hackers are doing everything they can to remain undetected.

Successful against the cyber baddies

The parallels between Darth Vader and hackers are not always immediately apparent. But on second glance they are undeniable. Both are master manipulators, possess strong technical skills, value anonymity and are up to no good. The term “darknet” can even sound like Darth Vader’s name.

But well-prepared IT admins can arm themselves against even the craftiest cyber villain by forging powerful alliances and relying on strong defenses. That includes regular patching of operating systems and software, corporate awareness campaigns, and constant vigilance. For all their similarities, hackers – like Darth Vader – ultimately can be defeated.

May the power of IT security be with you!

Checklist for secure update management: fewer exploitable vulnerabilities for Darth Vader

Unpatched vulnerabilities are commonly used to compromise IT systems. Despite the ever-growing number of vulnerabilities, there are effective tools to deal with manage and reduce the risks and eliminate openings for hackers. Read our free checklist to learn more about secure update management.

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