The True Hacker: A Distortion Of Reality Essay, Research Paper
Over the years, to this date, the media has distorted the definition of a hacker. It has been morphed and demonized to someone who terrorizes cyberspace. However, the true hacker is someone who seeks knowledge and information. When hackers hack into systems or networks, it is to explore an operating system that is foreign to them.
The younger generations have bred a new philosophy of hacking. Wannabe hackers who do not deserve the title ?hacker? use simple utilities available over the Internet to hack into personal computers or banks and cause havoc. This is due because they have no respect for the unwritten hacker code and ethics. Those superficial hackers who use their knowledge to harm other operating systems or use their experience to gain material wealth have blemished the integrity of the hackers of the world.
A true hacker is not like your ordinary person. Hackers are distinctively different than your average and boring citizen. They do not settle for what the rest of the world is following or brainwashed into doing. Hackers thrive off curiosity, and have an unsatisfying hunger for knowledge. The word impossible or access denied does not exist in a hacker?s vocabulary. They can access anything and everything that is kept in a computer; particularly when a price has been placed on knowledge and information. Why should only a select few have leisure of knowing what the rest of the public does not? Knowledge is and should always remain free. A hacker will share his knowledge, encourage it to be reproduced and distributed.
Hacking is a skill that takes years and years and tons of practice to achieve. A hacker?s qualifications are based on qualifications and performance. Prejudice is non-existent, a person?s title such as degree or position means nothing over the Internet. Discrimination is impossible, hackers are judged on how much they achieved in the quest for knowledge.
Hackers have ethics, contrary to what the media has portrayed. Hackers do not plant viruses, (biggest myth) they do not steal. However certain hackers who misuse their abilities to steal are not classified as true hackers, because knowledge in itself is its own reward. Hackers do not cause corruption nor destroy systems or networks. A real hacker?s purpose is to explore foreign material. The most common clich? is ?Using your knowledge to increase your knowledge.? But nowhere in the process is it said to gain material wealth or harm other computer systems. Hackers are the ones that should be helped and assisted because of their sheer intellectual capacity, and their ability to solve the everyday problems of the rapid advancement in modern technology.
But is hacking really a crime? Is there a line between harmful and harmless hacking? ?Hacking is a state of mind, not just the activity of breaking into computer systems. It can mean sitting up behind a computer all night to make a clever program to perform some useful or useless program.? (Hayward) Hackers have been deemed with malicious acts and criminal activity, irredeemable to society. But, hackers say that unauthorized entry to a network does not have to involve harming that network or stealing intellectual property. The only purpose the true hacker when making an unauthorized entry is to explore the depths of a computing system. In short, the dividing line comes when hackers damage or corrupt the person?s uses of a computing system. Okay, but if hacking is a crime, should it be considered a civil or criminal offense? True hackers argue that zero-impact (harmless) hacking should be treated as a civil offence. ?Crimes with no ill intent and crimes of curiosity should be treated as such. In regular society, when a crime is committed by a first-time offender or by someone not considered a threat, oftentimes punishment is suspended or very light. But computer crimes are quite often prosecuted to the full extent of the law.” (Phrack Magazine)
Another aspect in punishing hackers is the evidence placed against them. ?The difficulty that the legal system has in the representation of hackers as criminals. Accordingly, it is the possession of secrets (such as passwords) that law prohibits, not the actual use of them. As a result, criminality becomes defined by possession, rather than action. There are striking parallels between the discourse of computer crimes and those of drugs. Hackers are often seen as addicts, unable to control their compulsions- virtual beings who sacrifice their bodies to the drug of technology. The physical connection to technology itself is seen as the source of their criminality, as a performance of addiction, and courts have gone as far as banning hackers from touching computers, using touch-tone phones, or even being in the same room as a modem.? (Thomas)
How realistic is this? When evidence is brought before the jury in a court of law against an alleged hacker, it is made up of passwords. Passwords. Not drugs, not lethal weapons, but passwords. Very deadly I?m sure. But what about cyberspace? It?s a bodiless domain, the hacker domain, where there are no eyewitnesses. This is where truth is in its absolute from. How can hackers be tried for crimes committed in cyberspace? Whatever evidence the legal system has produced is very circumstantial, yet it still holds in the courts. ?Hackers, as non corporeal criminals, have corporeal jurisdiction forced upon them. Crimes, such as trespassing, which occur in virtual space, need to be documented in the physical world and attached to bodies.? (Thomas) When this happens it focuses on the person, not the actions that took occurred in the first place. It seems that the center of attention is blaming someone for these crimes; that it does not matter what occurs in the process, as long as the outcome is favorable.
The government is coming up with newer and harsher penalties for hackers. Hackers have the potential to be dangerous or very helpful; that all depends on the person sitting behind the computer. Probably the most legendary hacker, Kevin Mitnick, has been held by the U.S. longer without trial or bond than any other prisoner in the United States. As long as there are those who feel that information and knowledge should have a price or denied to the public, hackers will continue to explore territory forbidden to them. And they may stop a few, but they cannot stop all of them. Hackers are willing to sacrifice personal freedom to obtain what is most sacred to them?the ability to explore and learn something new.
?You may stop this individual, but you can’t stop us all… after all, we’re all alike.? (The Mentor) The media might influence harsher legislation, and increase the hacker crackdown, however, as long as technology flourishes so will the elite. “If anything, law enforcement crackdowns have not only pushed [hackers] further underground, they have encouraged hackers to become more sophisticated than ever before.”(Dreyfus)
If society keeps sucking in what the media instills in their mind?that hackers are malicious. What will be the outcome? What will become of the elite group? Well it is survival of the fittest. When a creature is placed in a hostile environment, it does one of two things. 1. It dies. 2. It adapts. And to this point in time, so far, hackers have adapted. They will continue to adapt and become more finesse, stealthier, and even more elite.
Even through the obstacles the hacker society has faced, and though it will continue to face harsh losses, it will not keep them from surrendering to self-absorbed government; a brain-dead society that relies on everything to be laid out in front of them, accepting it as a norm, rather than experiencing and researching for themselves. An unheard of phenomena nowadays-called freethinking escapes the one-track mind. Hackers do admit that most of the time that their curiosity to expand their knowledge may often be seen as an intrusion by system administrators. However, this refers back to the point of keeping knowledge and information a secret.
Kevin Mitnick. A disgrace has been done to this legendary hacker. His attorney has had problems getting Mitnick a laptop computer to review the evidence that has been piled up against him, which is about 1,400 pages and 10 gigabytes of electronic evidence. The judge has reportedly said, ?I didn’t seem to want to hear ‘computer’ and ‘Mitnick’ in the same sentence.? (Christensen) I think that all the crimes that Mitnick has allegedly committed would be considered legal had he been on the other side of the supposed law. Kevin could prove to be a valuable weapon the government, if he chose to work for them. Kevin Mitnick should not be locked up in a cage while his skills deteriorate. His talents should be put to good use in some useful position that I?m sure is out there-somewhere. But when Kevin Mitnick does get out, he will be banned from a computer with a modem, and even a phone for a very long time.
Two Chinese hackers were sentenced to death for Chinese money valued at 720,000. Now these two hackers don?t deserve the title ?hacker?, however, they did possess the knowledge and used their potential to obtain what they wanted. Granted, what they did was wrong, legally and ethically. But they did not deserve a death sentence. The Chinese Government might have thought they made an example of these two individuals. What they really did was make martyrs out of them. Besides that, what is the Chinese Government going to do every time it catches a hacker-put all of them to death? Highly unlikely, but imagine the chaos it could cause. ?You can?t stop us all.? (Mentor)
When hackers are punished, they are placed in federal penitentiaries filled with ruthless convicts. It is kind of sad that people with such high intellectual capacities are locked up, deemed to be wasted in an inappropriate environment. One hacker inmate was quoted in saying that the ?State scared me shitless. I was in a unit where they had 26 killings in one month. ?I’m 135 pounds. You don’t want to be me when you go to prison.? (Nash) While another inmate attempted suicide by taking 90 sleeping pills at one time. Very fitting place for America?s elite intellectuals.
Hacking should be looked as an art, for a hacker?s stealth and his respect of the system surroundings. Even so, it can be looked as a political act from the government?s standpoint. The government has its own team of hackers to serve its own necessities. According to them, hackers working for the government, the ?good guys? are called ?white hats.? And on the other side of the line, which means all the other hackers, are called ?red hats.? How many times have incidents occurred that hackers, government hackers, have covered up mistakes made by foolish government agencies? How many times have government hackers used their knowledge to increase their knowledge of other foreign countries, or even aspects of its own country? This kind of hacking is acceptable right? No. Hacking is hacking, no matter what you do it for, however, that doesn?t give anyone, hacker or not, the right to misuse their knowledge.
Every legal citizen?s life in the United States is based on a computer file, which basically means that whatever and whenever the government feels like toying with an individual?s life, it is very much possible. They have the power of blackmail and other illegal acts. Does this really occur? Of course. Do we often hear about it? Not really. It is unfair for one organization to possess so much power. ?Absolute power corrupts, and power corrupts absolutely.? It is the hacker that keeps everything in balance, even if it is not by much. The government knows the potential of hackers, which keeps them from doing anything blatant towards anyone.
WORK CITEDThe Mentor. The Conscience of a Hacker. January 8, 1986
Levy, Steven. Hackers: Heroes of the Computer Revolution 1984
Woodbury, Marsha. ?The Ten Commandments of Computer Ethics? The Computer Ethics Institution May 1995
Hayward, Douglas ?Is Computer Hacking a Crime?? Harper?s March (1990): 45-47
Bertrand, Justin ?How should we deal with teenage hackers? Galen Skywatcher May 11, 1998
Thomas, Douglas. ?Criminality of the Electronic Frontier: Corporeality and the judicial construction of the hacker.? December 1998
Hong Kong Voice of Democracy. ?Two Chinese Hackers Given Death Sentences.? December 31, 1998
Christensen, John. ?The Trials of Kevin Mitnick? CNN Interactive March 18, 1999
Espy, Bob. ?Crime on the Internet.? Online http://www.woodward.edu/cs/csweb/csbob.htmlNash, Kim. ?What happens to computer criminals in jail.? Computer World October 23, 1998