It's been awhile but when I first started reading and posting on these boards I was writing a paper on the hacking lifestyle. I beleave i mentioned once that i post it here. Well before I gradutate i wanted to see what everyone here would give me as a grade as apposed to my teacher. My teacher gave me an A but, somehow I beleave the grades here will be much lower. So if you have the time read on.
Period 8, Methods Research Paper
8 December 2003
“The Conscience of a Hacker
Another one got caught today, it's all over the papers. "Teenager Arrested in Computer Crime Scandal", "Hacker Arrested after Bank Tampering"... Damn kids. They're all alike. But did you, in your three-piece psychology and 1950's technobrain, ever take a look behind the eyes of the hacker? Did you ever wonder what made him tick, what forces shaped him, what may have molded him? I am a hacker, enter my world... Mine is a world that begins with school... I'm smarter than most of the other kids, this crap they teach us bores me... Damn underachiever. They're all alike. I'm in junior high or high school. I've listened to teachers explain for the fifteenth time how to reduce a fraction. I understand it. ‘No, Ms. Smith, I didn't show my work. I did it in my head...’ Damn kid. Probably copied it. They're all alike. I made a discovery today. I found a computer. Wait a second, this is cool. It does what I want it to. If it makes a mistake, it's because I screwed it up. Not because it doesn't like me or feels threatened by me or thinks I'm a smart ass or doesn't like teaching and shouldn't be here...damn kid. All he does is play games. They're all alike. And then it happened. A door opened to a world. Rushing through the phone line like heroin through an addict's veins, an electronic pulse is sent out, a refuge from the day-to-day incompetencies is sought... a board is found. ‘This is it... this is where I belong...’ I know everyone here... even if I've never met them, never talked to them, may never hear from them again... I know you all... Damn kid. Tying up the phone line again. They're all alike... You bet your ass we're all alike... we've been spoon-fed baby food at school when we hungered for steak... the bits of meat that you did let slip through were pre-chewed and tasteless. We've been dominated by sadists, or ignored by the apathetic. The few that had something to teach found us willing pupils, but those few are like drops of water in the desert.
This is our world now... the world of the electron and the switch, the beauty of the baud. We make use of a service already existing without paying for what could be dirt-cheap if it wasn't run by profiteering gluttons, and you call us criminals. We explore... and you call us criminals. We seek after knowledge... and you call us criminals. We exist without skin color, without nationality, without religious bias... and you call us criminals. You build atomic bombs, you wage wars, you murder, cheat, and lie to us and try to make us believe it's for our own good, yet we're the criminals.
Yes, I am a criminal. My crime is that of curiosity. My crime is that of judging people by what they say and think, not what they look like. My crime is that of outsmarting you, something that you will never forgive me for. I am a hacker, and this is my manifesto. You may stop this individual, but you can't stop us all... after all, we're all alike”.
The beginning quote is what the hacking community refers to as the “Hacker Manifesto.” A hacker that goes by the handle of “The Mentor” wrote it. The media uses words like hacker to classify people as being criminals. The media is only scratching the surface of the entire hacking world. Many aspects to this gang of computer junkies exist including the good, the bad, and the outright weird. Do you really know about these hacking individuals other than just what the media and criminal reports tell us? The answer for most is no, but there are the few that actually understand. This report is to provide a full view of the hacking community, how it functions, and who is in it.
Individuals who use computer skills in more advanced ways than an average user may be termed as a “hacker” or any other similar name. The term “cracker” is also used but there is much debate over which term actually describes the individual. There is even a little disagreement between the hacker/ crackers themselves exactly how to characterize themselves. The general consensus seems to label the actual people who gain access to another person’s computer via the Internet without permission, as a cracker. The term hacker is used more generally for people who have mastered amazing computer skills. The hackers are broken up into different types. The different types are described as different colors of hats.
An individual can wear different colored hats in his life. This doesn’t mean he actually is wearing a colored hat. This is just another form of classification for hackers. The classification actually dates back to old western movies. “The good guys had white hats and the bad guys had black hats” (The Confessions of a White Hat hacker, 1). When a person wears a black hat he is prone to do evil things. This includes the more illegal side of hacking. Crackers might also fall under this category. “Black Hats” hack maliciously. Their goal is to make some personal gain in some way. This could include gaining credit card numbers, identity theft, or ruining computer hardware. In general they destroy files and steal data. They are also the ones who create computer viruses to harm other people’s systems. “White Hats” hack legitimately and for a reasons other then personal gain. People who are likely to be “White Hats” are computer security staff, researchers and so on. They are not out to cause trouble but rather to help keep the web a safer place. White Hats are still hackers because of their mastered skills and because not all of their actions are exactly legal. This judgment is based more on morality then legality. A medium between the two exist. “Grey Hats” are worn by people who act in ways that could be classified in either Black or White hats. One last group remains in the hat category but it’s more of a computer nerd joke. Linux is a computer software company that has a program called Red Hat Linux. This is a sort of mockery to the whole hat classification system.
However you refer to a Hacker the question still remains. Are these people criminals or are they people being wrongly accused for their knowledge? Law enforcement has always frowned upon anyone gaining access to a computer, or any other electrical device, that they do not have permeation to access. Even if the hacker’s intentions are all morally just the FBI will still track these persons and prosecute them.
Hacker is more then just a term used to label a person. It’s a whole life style just like any other cultural group. This might not be realized because the group or groups are recognized as being an underground or secret culture that lives behind a computer screen. Some people actually think hackers are people hiding in the underground somewhere typing on a computer. This could not be even further from the truth. “The media in the past have portrayed the average computer criminal as an adolescent teen, who is highly intelligent, highly skilled, an under-achiever at school, with limited social skills and no or few friends” (Website, infosecure.com). The media is not exactly right. People like this are just like any other normal person. They could be anyone anywhere. Their lives without computers can be nothing out of the ordinary. Hackers live lives like werewolves, average people by day but something much more vicious and fierce at night. They come alive so to speak when they set down at their personal computer and access the World Wide Web. Once they’ve connected to that they’ve achieved a connection to people just like themselves all over the world. They will communicate through web forums and chat rooms. Sharing information on projects they’ve been working on or sit and read all new information about technology.
The life style of a hacker could be actual very normal. There are always exceptions because hackers are only human and all humans are different. There should be any little affects to his family at home. The family might be slightly excluded from what the hacker is doing on his computer. School life might be another story though. The “Hacker’s Manifesto” states direct references to school about teachers and studies. The “Manifesto” speaks for most hackers. Hackers are inclined to learn. One might go as far to say that they are addicted to knowledge. Computers provide them with a great challenge. Technology and/or is in a renaissance period. Things are constantly change and are becoming more advanced. A true hacker likes to stay right on top of that change. Hacking is more then a hobby to them. That’s why they might have other hobbies to help take their minds of hacking for a while. In “How to Become a Hacker” by Eric Steven Raymond, recommends some other hobbies that help develop the mind to form it better for hacking. He states, “reading science fiction, learning to write better in your native tongue, developing an analytical ear for music, study Zen meditation, and taking up the martial arts will all help. Why these things in particular is not completely clear, but they’re connected with a mix of left- and right-brain skills that seem to be important; hackers need to be able to both reason logically and step outside the apparent logic of a problem at a moment’s notice” (How to Become a Hacker, 15,16). There is a creative modern Zen poem in this article that describes how to be a hacker.
“To follow the path:
Look to the master,
Follow the master,
Walk with the master,
See through the master,
Become the master “ (How to Become a Hacker, 3).
Hack: to cut or chop crudely or irregularly, as with an ax, cleaver etc (Funk & Wagnalls Standard Desk Dictionary Vol. 1). This definition doesn’t exactly fit well with the topic. No one’s going to take an ax to a computer and call it hacking. Not unless they’re that mad at it or making a joke. This definition is completely out of date for the computing age. The term has molded to suit a different purpose. They might share little similarity but the word “hack” has received an upgrade in computer terms. Hacking in this sense is using different techniques and/or computer programs to override another computer. Actually in this sense it does not even have to be the whole computer. Hackers size up a target, gather information, refine their knowledge, seek weaknesses, plain their exploits, and finally, penetrate the target at its weakest point (Here at Hacking School, Bill Machrome). Other things that are normally hacked include websites, e-mails, firewalls and other forms of Internet and computer security. Different types of programs and methods are used to hack different devices. Some technical terms for different types of hacks are brute force, denial of service, packet sniffing, port scanning, TCP/IP fingerprinting, backdoors, and script writing. When an average person hears words like these they think to themselves ‘this is all computer jargon’ that they really do not understand. Yes, it is jargon but good hackers can speak this jargon very fluently and completely understand it. How these programs/methods work is all extremely detailed with much more computer jargon needed to explain them all.
A computer is very essential to a hacker’s lifestyle. There is no set standard setup for them. Their personal computer will probably be any type of hardware they could get their hands on. They might go to extreme means of getting hardware too. Such as going to local businesses and asking for their old computer equipment. The more extreme hackers go to local dumps and some even go dumpster diving for anything they can find. Dumpster diving is when a person jumps into a dumpster an hunts around in there until he/she finds what he/she is looking for. Another skill stems from this, a hacker might have. A hacker will be able to build an entire functioning computer out of scrap parts. If a person were to walk into a hackers computing area he/she might be faced with several computer monitors starring at them with many blinking lights from different terminals all around them.
A hackers software collection will probably be very different then the average computer. Microsoft dominates the software industry with its Windows Operating system. Most hackers will not use this media hyped, monopolized, poor excuse for a piece of software. There is a reason for this that spawns the dislike for Microsoft. Windows Operating System creates all sorts of security and restrictions with the programs in it. This does not allow the hacker with the resources he/she needs to experiment. Most hackers will use a form of Linux or Unix computer Operating System software. These programs are called open source. That means they lack the restrictions that Microsoft uses. Open source also provides a whole new perspective in programming. Since the restrictions are not in the software a hacker can use methods and other programs to manipulate and change parts of the open source software.
When a hacker is manipulating an open source program he most likely is reprogramming the script of the software. It might sound advanced but only to non-hackers. Scripting is just the beginning in a hackers training. Nevertheless scripting is a powerful tool. When a hacker uses scripting he must type in a different language known as script. There are many different languages in script and the more of them a hacker can fluently use the better his/her skills are. Some names of different types of scripts include Python, Java, C, C++, Perl, LISP, and Visual basic (How to Become a Hacker, 6). A language consists of different type of codes or words the hacker will type in to perform a certain functions and commands. After a hacker has written or rewritten a program using script he will then have to debug. Debugging is checking the script for errors and flaws. Script writing is not just a hacking tool it is also the trade of a computer program.
Without hackers the Internet would not be inexistence today. It is hackers who have been manipulating programs and other functions of the computing technology to form what we know the Internet as. Part of that is because of open source software like Linux but there is a lot more to it then just that. Credit is not distributed were it needs to be. It was the early hackers who originally started discovering how different computers could connect to each other. The earliest hack goes back even before computers. It was actually something called a “phreaking” which is hacking with a telephone. Someone figured out that an Oscar Meyer weenie whistle could reproduce the same tones that a telephone makes when a number is dialed. Its inventive things like this that has spawned a whole race of computer super genius. That in return is why the computing world is rapidly changing. Its becoming bigger and better because of what hackers are doing.
Some names of hackers that have become famous or infamous over the years. Most of the time it’s not the hackers actual name. A hacker will be known by his/her handle or code name. “Mafiaboy” was a teenaged hacker that was caught and was charged with 67 different criminal charges against him. If you wanted to find a bunch of hackers all in one place you might want to be in Los Vegas sometime in the month of July for the annual hacker convention called “DEFCON.” There you might learn that’s hacking has no gender barrier. Anna Moore who wasn’t even in her teenage years before she was hacking and phone phreaking. You might also run into Joe Magee at “DEFCON.” This man learned how to hack very well within the first few months of owning a computer. Joe Magee’s story is a happy one. Joe is one of the hackers who turned legit and was employed as a computer security consultant. Sometimes it’s not just an individual you hear about in the media. Sometime it can be an entire group of hackers. Some names of these groups included Genocide 2600, Legion of Doom, and the Dead Cow Cult. There names can be somewhat intimidating but sometimes there is nothing to it then just being a name (Verton #1).
Anyone who craves knowledge more then is given to them could become addicted to seeking this information elsewhere. If taken to the extreme an addict may crack into another person’s computer to find it. That is part of the world of hacking. This world has lots of information to give. Not all Hacking is entirely harmful and some is even for the better good. There is a constant struggle between the morality and legality of the issue. Most hackers are not criminals they are just being punished by the label that the media has put on them. They will accept this burden that is put on them even if praise should be rightfully theirs.
(I've messsed placed my Bios page but I still give full credit to everything that is sited. )
Thank You I look forward to any and all response.