Re: Cyber burglar steals 485,000 credit card numbers

From rhiann3n wyrcat <>
Date Fri, 24 Mar 2000 08:28:32 -0500

[: hacktivism :]

Ben Earnhart wrote:
> [: 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.  

Mind if I add a rather lengthy and dry
dissertation?  Forgive if this diverts from topic
just a bit, scroll past or ignore if desired.

The media, backed by Big Business's wanting to
keep their doings secret, seem to have been the
major influence in making 'hacker' synonymous
w/'criminal'.  A welcomed (to them) additional
boost came from the 'script kiddies' who found it
humorous to wreck havoc - this was quickly dubbed
'hacking' by the media, but Not by hackers as it
runs contrary to the very nature of hacking.  
Actually, if a one word summation of hacker is
demanded, it might be 'curious'.

A hacker, in the old school meaning of the word,
is someone who enjoys having a detailed
understanding of the internal workings of a
system, computers and computer networks in
particular, and finding better, faster, more
efficient, more secure, or just cooler ways of
accomplishing goals or solving problems. 

--------(From the Jargon File)
 hacker ethic /n./
1.The belief that information-sharing is a
powerful positive good, and that it is an ethical
duty of hackers to share their expertise by
writing free software and facilitating access to
information and to computing resources wherever

2.The belief that system-cracking for fun and
exploration is ethically OK as long as the cracker
commits no theft, vandalism, or breach of
>From the above, it's rather easy to see where
large corporations performing, shall we say,
questionable actions would not look favorably on
hacking.  With the advent of moving sensitive
company information into electronic media, the
chance of having their dirty laundry not only
viewed but made accessible to the masses was
enough for a call to transform the image of
hacking into a dastardly major crime requiring
dire consequences.  IOW, hackers scared the
bejebbers outta the mega corps.

A hacker who truly followed the understood code of
ethics would bear in mind the confidentiality of
the data viewed - hackers are much more interested
in the setup of the system, the security, the
ability to 'piggy-back' from system to system, the
file structuring, and the way various OS's and
protocols operated and responded to different
queries and commands.  

Hactivism may possibly be viewed in a small way as
a spin-off of hacking as not every hacker chose to
be completely 'hacker ethical' when viewing
information which ran contrary to their ideals.  

When Activism meshed with Hacking, the perceived
threat became a reality.  What else would explain
the highly over-inflated monetary costs associated
with hacking and the incredibly severe penalties
laid down by the courts?  Security reviews, in
deciding how much time, effort, and money needs to
be expended for securing data, for the costs of
say, having a CEO's laptop stolen is normally
considered in the $20K to $30K (American) range,
yet let a hacker access that same data while it's
still in the CEO's possession and the reported
damages claimed can easily jump into the six or
even seven figure range.  Rather an interesting
discrepancy, no?

Hacking, by it's nature, lead to the development
and publishing of numerous lines of code
('scripts') written and shared to streamline
processes.  Along with cleaner ways of compiling
code and the like, some of these processes
included entering systems, or reproducing
interesting effects discovered such as remotely
shutting down systems or making them reboot.  

These codes quickly became the haven of 'script
kiddies' - those who could not reverse engineer
one line to understand How it works, but are only
interested in That it works and in how much 'fun'
they perceived it to be.  Examples can be found
invading nearly every aspect of the 'Net, but a 13
year old newly on AOL wanting to impress his/her
friends with their 'power' and 'knowledge of
computers' and their so-called and woefully
incorrect self-assessment as 'hackers' is a rather
typical view.

Unfortunately, these same codes/scripts are also
the tools utilized by many Hactivists who deem
them helpful by using them in organized efforts to
bring attention to their cause.  

Hacking and Hacktivism will most likely not
achieve honorable status among the masses, and
definitely won't as long as script kiddies keep
giving fodder to the media and the courts.  As a
corollary, guns can be used for self-defense, for
countries defense, and for the protection of
values and what is 'right' (a completely separate
discussion.)  Guns have also now gained
reputations as being the favored tools of
repression, aggression, and criminal activity.  

The tool isn't the problem, the chosen usage is. 
It all boils down to motivation and personal
responsibility.  The choices and actions are
personal ones, to be weighed heavily under the
knowledge of the stigma and penalties attached. 
Just as it might not be prudent to point a loaded
weapon at another unless fully intending to use it
if necessary, so might the decision be made to use
the tools of hacking.

Just a few thoughts before coffee.


[: quotesnip :]
> 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...
> Ben

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