Re: Cyber burglar steals 485,000 credit card numbers

From Ben Earnhart <>
Date Tue, 21 Mar 2000 01:38:36 -0600

[: hacktivism :]

Hmmm...  what is a hacker?  In general, I'd say that the person who did it
was a person who used hacking skills, for an unknown purpose.  If it was
for intellectual gratification, they might be a "pure hacker."  However,
odds are, they had a financial goal in mind, in which case, they might be a
"cyber-thief," or, depending on how they meant to get their money (e.g. CD
Universe), maybe a "cyber-extortionist."  If they had a purely malicious
intent above and beyond gaining money, to cause the maximum harm to the
financial intitutions involved and/or to the individuals involved, then
they might be a "cyber-terrorist" or (on a smaller scale) a "cyber-vandal."
 All use hacking skills, as might those trying to discover the identity of
those involved -- hacking is simply the creation of new code, or
re-discovering infrequently used code and using it in creative ways.      

If the Secret Service wants to use programming skills in order to further
thier goals, and if they are good at it, and creative/unpredictable, then
they might be hacking in the name of the government.  They are still not
hackers, but rather, using hacking skills to further a goal.   If they're
using pedestrian, out-of-the-box tools or databases, then they're just a
bunch of well-educated and/or well-resourced government agents... 

Some thoughts...          

I'm sure that there are sites that discuss such distinctions in detail and
with greater insight than this post, so feel free to point me [and, to be
presumtuous, Stu :) ] in the right direction for clarification...

I'm more interested in when hacking becomes activism... hacking is in
general (at least by my understanding), a solitary or at least very insular
activity, limited to an audience of the select few.  Activism, is by its
very nature, a public, direct engagement kind of activity, that seeks out
particiaption by a wide range of people, which is why the Electrohippies'
call for ddos attacks as a way to empower the relatively ignorant masses
seems so interesting to me...     

Well, rambling again, I'll shut up for now, need more beer, need more
caffeine, need more... need more... 


>[: hacktivism :]
>I've just finished reading Richard Stallman's GNU stuff, and my only 
>comment on the article below is "who is the hacker?"
>I mean, Stallman says a hacker is "someone who likes to program 
>and who likes being clever about it".  So... would it be the Secret 
>Service, who seem to have been quite clever about their program of 
>misappropriating the truth... or was it the banks that did that?

           Ben Earnhart
    Department of Sociology (student)
         University of Iowa
          Iowa City, Iowa
           (319) 335-2505

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