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[Dailydave] Exactly 500 word essay on "Why hacking is cool, so that Marcus changes his web site"
From: Dave Aitel (daveimmunitysec.com)
Date: Sun Sep 11 2005 - 10:15:32 CDT
“Why hacking is cool, so that Marcus changes his web site”
Hacking, or in common parlance, “breaking into other people's computers”
is a tool of the human spirit. We live in a time where new technologies
engender new freedoms as well as new tyrannies. As the discipline of
revolution must take hold among a society in order to combat any
tyranny, such has hacking taken hold among the technical community. More
than anything else, the searchable database has made oppression of a
group of people a scalable event. It can now be done subtly and out of
sight, in airport lobby's, in welfare offices, in school admission
offices. You can gerrymander an entire society with enough data on the
populace and the aid of advanced computer algorithms.
Because morality and legality are entirely separate worlds, hacking, and
the apotheosis of hackers in modern culture (Matrix, et. al) , provides
the public three valuable things. The first thing is the idea that
unknown heroes, electronic Robin Hoods, are working to defeat the
oppression around them. Hacking truly is the mighty made low. It's not
joe-blow's cell phone that gets hacked, but Paris Hiltons. It's not your
sister's email, but Michael Bloomberg's. This is as true for the
Pakistani hacker groups as for the Chinese. Higher levels of oppression,
not higher levels of expensive upper education, spawns hackers in places
like Turkey, China, Eastern Europe, and South America. Sometimes just a
story about revolution can be enough to inspire true freedom.
The second thing hackers bring the public is a complete defeat of the
false sense of security world governments would like to provide
themselves with extensive Brave-New-World-like monitoring tools. What
use is monitoring the public when that data can be manipulated,
corrupted, and deceived. What use is it to fost an electronic voting
scheme on the public when the public knows how it can be fooled into
voting for whoever controls the wires? By defeating the false sense of
security normally associated with complex technologies the public does
not understand, hackers defeat a small part of the modern tyrannies we
could find ourselves under.
The third thing hackers deliver is an offensive operations team against
the very powers that seek to defuse other cultural revolutions.
Whistleblowers have a technique to use that provides anonymity. The
anonymity of astroturfing corporations can be penetrated. Shredded
documents detailing environmental destruction can be pulled from a
hacker's email archives and emailed to newspapers. When The SCO Group
find their website has been hacked, can they trust that their email has
not been stored somewhere, ready for revealing at an inopportune moment?
In this way, hackers keep those people in places of power honest.
While hacking does harm a few, it frees a many. An exploit itself is a
study in cool understated elegance. Hacking is done under extreme
pressure and personal risk, each hacker a submarine captain in a leaky
boat with a cool head and a steady hand.