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In today’s Computer Science class, We will be discussing the Hacking Community. We hope you enjoy the class!
WHO ARE HACKERS?
Quoting Steele Denning reports that the word hacker has taken on many different meanings ranging from a person who enjoys learning the details of computer systems and how to stretch their capabilities to a malicious or inquisitive meddler who tries to discover information by poking around possibly by deceptive or illegal means. Interviewing hackers gave denning a more precise definition. One of them asserted:
”A hacker is someone that experiments with systems… [Hacking] is playing with systems and making them do what they were never intended to do. Breaking in and making free calls are just a small part of that. Hacking is also about freedom of speech and free access to information – being able to find out anything. There is also the David and Goliath side of it, the underdog vs. the system, and the ethic of being a folk hero, albeit a minor one.”.
The term “hacker” itself has evolved somewhat from its original meaning. Rogers breaks down the evolution into four generations:
- First-generation: talented students, programmers and scientists (mostly from MIT)
These were academics or professionals interested in the working of computer code. They enjoyed tweaking the code, in order to produce a more efficient or elegant program, or just to create a program that can assist them in everyday computing life. They were the technically elite group and were often pioneers in their field (e.g. Richard Stallman).
- Second generation: technological radicals
They evolved from the technically elite, with forward-thinking to recognize the potential of a second computer niche from mainframe to personal systems. Their radical nature means that minor criminal activity was not uncommon (e.g. phone phreaking).
- Third generation: young people who embraced personal computers (PC)
These people recognized the potential entertainment value of PC and began developing games (or making illegal copies of games and cracking their copy-protection).
- Fourth generation: the current generation, those embracing criminal activity as if it is some sort of game or sport.
Some of these people got arrested and claimed that the motivation was curiosity or hunger for knowledge, although the actual motivation seems to be greed, power, revenge or other malicious intent.
The public perception is that hackers are usually young males who tend to be working alone. With the proliferation of both the bulletin boards and of tool kits for virus makers, the last characteristic is questionable. On the values side, hackers share some particularities. For instance, Levy identified some behaviours and values in the hacker ethic, some of them having an obsession with “hands-on” use of computers, desire that all information should be in the public domain and mistrust of authority. Some more person logical dimensions have been identified by Gordon who examined the ethical development of a large number of virus writers. According to Gordon’s results, hackers can be divided into the following
- Adolescent, who is not typically concerned by problems caused by their viruses;
- Adult, ethically abnormal;
- Ex virus-writer, undecided concerning the legitimacy of virus writing.
Some hackers’ ethics are not that far from more traditional views shared by the public at large. For instance, some hackers are concerned about the increasing amount of information about individuals that is stored in large data banks, and the inability of the individual to have much control over the use of that information.
Rogers did a study on the hacker community and proposed hackers taxonomy as follows:
- Tool Kit/newbie: are people who are new to hacking and who tend to have limited computer and programming skills. As a result, they usually rely on software (tool kits) already written by other people in order to conduct their attack. These people are often called script kiddies.
- Cyber-punks: consist of people with better computer skills (than newbies) and some might have programming capabilities. It is their intention to engage in malicious acts, such as web defacement, credit card number theft, telecommunication fraud or spamming (sending junk mails).
- Internals: is made up of disgruntled employees or ex-employees. It may be surprising to learn that a lot of attacks were actually carried out by people with internal knowledge/connection.
- Old-guard hackers are similar to those of first-generation hackers. They appear to be interested in the intellectual endeavour instead of criminal intention, but they seem to have little respect for personal property.
- Professional criminals
These groups are not mutually exclusive, but they might help in understanding the motives of those individuals involved in hacking activities.
- What are the proposed hacker’s taxonomy by Rogers
- Explain the four generations of Hacking
We have come to the end of this class. We do hope you enjoyed the class?
Should you have any further question, feel free to ask in the comment section below and trust us to respond as soon as possible.
In our next class, we will be talking about Logic Circuit. We are very much eager to meet you there.
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