The Pros and Cons of Hacking

The Pros and Cons of Hacking

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"During a three-day period in February 2000, some of the most high-profile sites on the World Wide Web were temporarily knocked out of service."(Issues and Controversy) This quote is one of the many that show the down side to hacking. A hacker is a person who takes pleasure in understanding the internal workings of a systems. This does not necessarily classify hackers as bad. There are good hacking and bad hacking. But on the subject of hacking, its unclear whether or not they are truly good or bad. Not every single hack is bad.
From the computer stand point, a hacker is a person who wants " to gain access to a computer illegally." (Webster Dictionary). But that is only one part of the definition, but this is the definition most people associate hacking with. The other part of the definition is "to write computer programs for enjoyment." (Webster Dictionary). Most just classify these kinds of people as programmers, but truly, if you can make a program, you are a basic at hacking. That’s one reason why not all hacking is bad.
"Hacking includes a wide range of activities, from writing software, to practical jokes, to exploring roofs and tunnels of the MIT campus." (Stallman). Now when have practical jokes ever gone to far to be considered bad. Look at the group of people called Improv Everywhere. They’ve done large scale practical jokes ranging from freezing at the grand station (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jwMj3PJDxuo), to creating a giant bulls eye in the middle of a park. (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xkVTg6TT2XE). This group of actors and volunteers stage huge events to just have fun. If the definition of hacking is about practical jokes and this group isn’t considered bad but actually very popular, then the group of hackers that like to have fun by playing jokes on people cant be considered bad too.
Going on Stallman’s definition of hacking, writing software can be seen going both ways of good or bad. This is why software creating is a tough choice to decide on whether it is good or bad. On one side, you see that people can use the hacking software for malicious use. But on the other side, hackers are great at making computer software, since the knowledge they have for hacking enables them to make the best defense against those attacks.
Then there is the definition of whether hackers and crackers should be associated with each other.

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Hackers, as previously mentioned, are people that use their knowledge to gain information, play practical jokes, and other things like this. While crackers are the hackers that use their knowledge for malicious needs, such as hacktivists and black hats.
Hacktivists are political activists that use their hacking knowledge to get their messages across. They will use their resources to say what they want said and to make sure its heard. Black hats are hackers that use their knowledge to take a site down or to steal information. But going reverse order with black hats, there are 3 hats that classify what a hacker is. White hats, grey hats, and black hats are the 3 classifications. (Arnone)
White hats are the good hackers, these are the hackers that aid websites and developers in creating better software and protection for computers. These will be things such as firewalls and anti virus software. Grey hats are the inbetween guys, the researchers. These are the guys that are neither good or bad, they inform people of vulnerabilities, where or not they secure the information is known. This is why they can be considered bad, yet good at the same time.
On the discussion of hackers, the good side does have a nice argument. The people who are white and grey hats have majorly helped out the protection companies. The CIA is even looking for hackers to help them in their defense. The fact that they are some of the best defenses against black hats is what really gets people to want them. And there are some white hats that really show through others like Johnny Long.
“Another problem is that government and industry have fallen for the negative hacker stereotypes shown on film and television, and are not using valuable, available assets.” (Arnone). Its thanks to Hollywood and authors that hackers have developed stereotypes. Hackers are seen as negative things, since movies such as “Cyberwars” and “Live Free Die Hard” have displayed them as bad. What the movies fail to do is classify the different kinds of hackers. In “Live Free Die Hard”, they did try to separate the black hats and the white hat. The main character was a black hat, but when he found out his own program was being used for malicious purposes on a grand scale, he went to the white hats side to help out Mclain. It was a nice way to show the difference between good and bad hacking.
“Johnny Long has been hacking stuff for as long as he can remember. But Long, a professional hacker and security researcher at Computer Sciences Corporation, doesn’t fit the stigma. As a self-described schristian hacker who created an organization for the hacking community to do charity work, he says his goal is to improve the security of computer networks by exposing their vulnerabilities…he explains how hackers are using their curiosity and sense of perception to compromise security without the use of technology, and what security professionals need to know how to get ahead of the game.” (Long).
That long quote is an introduction to a popular white hat, Johnny Long. He is a security head, he leads many projects that aim towards providing better protection for websites and developers. And he does this through religious values, he feels that everyone show know about vulnerabilites and how to defend against them. Quote from Johnny Long, “Security is a race between the good guys and the bad guys. Everybody tries to get more technically advanced and smarter about what it is they they are doing.”
Johnny Long has set a popular example what being a true white hate means. Its using your knowledge to better what you do. This means that white hats are the classifications of anyone who fit’s the definition of a hacker in a good way. The improv anywhere group can be considered white hats, they do not harm anyone but better mankind by bringing humor and something new. But when you have a good side of something like hacking, you will for sure have a bad side.
“During a three-day period in February 2000, some of the most high-profile sites on the World Wide Web were temporarily knocked out of service.”(Issues and Controversy). This is the damage that hacking can do. A hacker or group of hackers managed to take down some of the biggest sites on the web, that’s the magnitude of hackers. These guys are also known as the black hats. These are brilliant hackers that exercise there abilities for different reasons: One could be just for the fun of it, another reason is to get information such as credit card numbers, and finally it could be just to get their message across to a wide audience.
“In May 1996, the GAO reports that computer users had tried to invade the Defense Department’s computers 250,000 times in 1995, and they had succeeded about 65% of the time.” (Issues and Controversies). If these black hats have the ability to access the Defense Department of the United States, the need for the white hats grow more and more. And its thanks to these kindve attacks that white hats are disappearing from being associated with hacking.
If you take a quick second and go to google and type in, “How to Hack”, you get 3,350,000 hits. When you type in, “White Hats+ Hacking” (the + sign is a tool used on google to connect a two search terms), you get 590,000 hits. When you type in, “Black Hats+ Hacking”, you get 1,178,000 hits. Almost three times as many hits as black hats. The white hats are diminishing in the public eye, but they do have a purpose, they are great defenses to black hats.
Black hats are the cause of the stereotypes. To quote a friend Buffer from Ds-revolution.net, “Black Hats have decided the shape of the what hacking represents. The white hats are no longer widely known, but some of our security technologies are created by them. But knowing about white hats opens the mind to seeing the good side of hacking which is what I think more should see, because when the media plays hackers as more and more bad, if a white hat or grey hat show a vulnerability to people, they will be ‘flamed’ for being hackers.”
And the government attempts at stopping black hats have been futile. On the discovery television show, “Future Car.” it was mentioned that technology grows rapidly every year. This is why government will never fully stop them. As technology grows, hackers will grow to, resulting in the spending of millions to grow and develop better technology. Which is being created by the white hats.
“Hackers typically had little respect for the silly rules that administrators like to impose, so they look for ways around…hackers found clever ways to bypass the security.” (Stallman) One of the better descriptions of black hats. They will avoid the rules and regulations that have been opposed. They will shut down or get around the systems like the Federal Intrusion Detection Network. As long as technology continues to grow, so will black hats. And so will the need for white hats.
“In February 2000, suspected hackers force the shutdown of some of the World Wide Web’s most popular sites, including Web portal Yahoo.com, on-line auction site eBay.com and stock-trading site E*trade.com.“There are good hacking and bad hacking. But on the subject of hacking, its unclear whether or not they are truly good or bad. Not every single hack is bad. Its thanks to the media that the white hats, or the good side of hacking is diminishing and the black hats, bad side, growing. Its thanks to the movies and books about hacking which are causing the same effect. But one thing is clear, the importance of the good side of hacking is needed and should be more present in todays society so they can help protect the average person and governments computers.



Bibliography
“Key events in Computer Hacking.” 12 May 2000. Issues and Controversies Facts on File News Services. 31 Jan. 20008

“Computer Hacking.” 18 July 2005. Issues and Controversies. Facts on File News Services. 31 Jan. 2008

Long, Johnny. "Why Johnny Long Hacks Stuff". Computer Science Coporations. January 31, 2008 .

Guisnel, Jean, Schnarau, Wihn. Cyberwars:Espionage on the internet. New York, 1997

Friedman, Lauri S. The Patriot Act. Michigan, 2006.

Judson, Karen. Computer Crime : Phreaks, Spies and Slami Dices. 2000

"Hacking And Hackers". Thocp. 31, Jan 2008 .

Stallman, Richard. “On Hacking” . Stallman articles. January 31, 2008

Arnone, Michael “White hat, gray hat, black hat”. Computer Crime Research Center. January 31, 2008
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