What Is a Backdoor?

What Is a Backdoor?

 By Charles Joseph | Cybersecurity Advocate
 Last update: November 25, 2023

A backdoor is like a sneaky, secret entrance to a computer or a software system that lets someone get in without using the normal login stuff (like a username and password).

It’s kinda like having a hidden door in your house that only you and a few others know about, and you can use it to come and go as you please without anyone noticing.

Backdoors can be created intentionally by the people who made the software (like the developers) for various reasons.

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Sometimes they want a way to troubleshoot problems, test the system, or even recover lost passwords.

But, other times, backdoors are put there by hackers or bad actors who want to get into the system without getting caught.

5 Examples of Backdoors

Tech support backdoorBuilt-in backdoor used by tech support to remotely access your computer and fix problems. Can be misused if it falls into the wrong hands.
Government backdoorsBackdoors built into encryption systems by tech companies to allow governments to access people’s data for investigations or surveillance. Controversial due to potential security risks and misuse.
Hacked backdoorsCreated by hackers who find vulnerabilities in software, exploit bugs, and set up a secret entrance for later use. Can be used to steal data, spy on users, or take control of systems. Sketchy and can cause problems.
Backdoor TrojansA type of malware that creates a backdoor on a victim’s computer when installed. Allows attackers to remotely control infected computers, steal data, or launch attacks on other computers. Examples: “Zeus” Trojan, “BlackEnergy”.
Firmware backdoorsBackdoors built into the firmware of hardware devices like routers or IoT gadgets. Can be used by attackers to gain control of devices, launch attacks on other systems, or snoop on network traffic.


So, there you have it!

A backdoor is basically a secret entrance to a computer or software system that lets someone in without going through the normal security checks.

While backdoors can sometimes be helpful for legit purposes, they can also be a huge security risk if they’re misused or discovered by bad guys.

Always keep your software up to date, and watch out for any signs of sneaky backdoor activity!

"Amateurs hack systems, professionals hack people."
-- Bruce Schneier, a renown computer security professional