The use of hacking to identify weaknesses in computer security has become an increasingly controversial issue in recent years. Awareness of this issue is important, because our ever increasing reliance on technology means that breaches in computer security have the potential to have wide-ranging and devastating consequences to society, worldwide. This essay will begin by clearly defining the term ‘hacking’ and will examine the type of people who hack and for what reasons. There will then follow a discussion of the moral argument on hacking before examining a few brief examples. The essay will then conclude by arguing against the use of hacking as a means of identifying weaknesses in computer security.
What is it to ‘hack’?
Hacking has two primary definitions; the first refers to the enthusiastic and skilful use of computers to solve problems (Techterms, 2013); the second, to “gain unauthorized access to data in a system or computer” (Oxford Dictionaries, 2013). In the context of this essay the second definition is more appropriate and will be the meaning inferred throughout. This definition also more closely aligns with legal terminology used in the UK when describing the hacking of computers. The Computer Misuse Act (1990) introduced three criminal offenses:
1. Unauthorised access to computer material.
2. Unauthorised access with intent to commit or facilitate commission of further offences.
3. Unauthorised acts with intent to impair, or with recklessness as to impairing, operation of computer, etc.
a. Making, supplying or obtaining articles for use in offence under section 1 or 3
The important phrase to draw from both the dictionary and legal definitions is ‘unauthorised access.’ This will be useful for helping t...
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Rouse, M. (2007). Definition: Black Hat. Retrieved 11 17, 2013, from searchsecurity.techtarget.com: http://searchsecurity.techtarget.com/definition/black-hat
Rouse, M. (2007). Definition: White Hat. Retrieved 11 17, 2013, from searchsecurity.techtarget.com: http://searchsecurity.techtarget.com/definition/white-hat
Staff, A. (2011). Lulz? Sony hackers deny responsibility for misuse of leaked data. Retrieved 11 17, 2013, from arstechnic.com: http://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/2011/06/lulz-sony-hackers-deny-responsibility-for-misuse-of-leaked-data/
Techterms. (2013). Hacker. Retrieved 11 17, 2013, from techterms.com: http://www.techterms.com/definition/hacker
Yeo, V. (2006). Do former black hats make good hires? Retrieved Feburary 1, 2014, from www.zdnet.com: http://www.zdnet.com/do-former-black-hats-make-good-hires-2061955207/
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