Comments on: Care and feeding of your computer hacker Where media and technology meet Wed, 16 Nov 2016 08:48:25 +0000 hourly 1 By: AltonBob Sun, 16 Oct 2011 03:18:27 +0000 It’s remarkable how things evolve over time. In the early and mid-1980’s, the “computer hacker” was often a creative force. In those times, the microcomputer was not ubiquitous, and most hardware and software had not had tens, nay, hundreds of person-years of development time poured into them. There were untold ways to make existing products work better or in ways the designers simply had not yet imagined. Much of the freeware and shareware of the day came from ideas these original “hackers” polished into high performance. The roots of Linux are deep in this fertile environment.
Then came the movie “War Games” and the mass media started to define hackers as the ones trying to break into and damage things. The public at large, not knowing any different definitions, adopted the negative model.
Now, so much comes out too highly polished – and protected – to make the classic form of hacking terribly rewarding. It seems that every good idea that a single person can develop, has already been done bigger and better.
It’s time for a good, jarring paradigm shift that renders all the current technology as dated as carburetors and vacuum tubes. (Smart phones? Sorry, not jarring enough! How about a baseball cap that decodes brain waves?) Then the young, inventive set will have something where they can leave their mark. As for the rest of us, we can just watch in awe.

By: Ex-Patriot Sun, 16 Oct 2011 02:27:20 +0000 Crackers are sometimes sought out and hired by companies, thus they take off the black hats and don the white ones instead. Kevin Mitnick went from prison to forming his own security company. I am not to sure about the Op/Ed’s claim that “As I can demonstrate in a number of cases, imprisonment encourages them to return to the dark side of the web after their release.” I wish he would have expanded on this aspect.

By: dofus Fri, 14 Oct 2011 21:36:59 +0000 Let’s see if I got this correct. Some thief picks your pocket so the smart thing to do is hire him to teach you how to keep him from doing it again….sounds like BS to me. As long as we simply slap him on the wrist and then put them on the payroll, we’ll always have a plentiful supply auditioning for jobs.

By: The1eyedman Thu, 13 Oct 2011 17:55:39 +0000 Whatever happened to thou shall not steal?
The morality issue may be a factor; however most hacking is usually after military or industrial knowledge. Usually with a profit motive.
A secondary factor is empire building and destruction of someone or group, quite often in office or corporate politics.
Your argument hackers are really nice lads to be encouraged may not go down well with those who have been hacked!

By: stevedebi Wed, 12 Oct 2011 19:00:12 +0000 Can these people be converted into productive Internet citizens? I think it depends on the personality. A person with a destructive nature is different from someone who has simply lost his path in life and made a mistake. That is not the sort of decision that can be made across-the-board for all hackers. I do agree that if the personality is right, we should make use of the talent.

The main problem I have with the story is that by the time youngsters get to teenagers they should have already had their morals defined; the untold story here is the decline of morality in society. Some of it is lack of role models, some the breakdown of the nuclear family, some the decline in religion – the list of factors could go on endlessly. But all of it is based in the decline of parenting in favor of the concept that society can take its place. It cannot; our children learn what we teach, and if we teach nothing they will learn from their televisions and other diversions. Considering the content of television and games these days, it is hardly surprising that those with the skills turn to destruction.

By: IanKemmish Wed, 12 Oct 2011 17:03:52 +0000 In the 18th Century it was fashionable to recruit young criminals into the armies and navies of Western Europe. They tended to do a lot more damage to the civilian populations of the countries they marched through than they did to the enemy.

Where these policies were successful, they tended to be because the crown recruited “privateers” – pirates who only took foreign ships and were allowed to keep the spoils for themselves. There’s been some talk that this is partly what’s happening in the more successful countries you mention, but it doesn’t sound an appropriate path for liberal democracies to take.

By: matthewslyman Wed, 12 Oct 2011 16:43:13 +0000 [All I am saying is there is a danger in stereotyping. Not all computer professionals or even computer abusing miscreants are on the “autistic spectrum”, and not all autistic people are computer “hackers”. Each case should be judged on its merits.]

By: matthewslyman Wed, 12 Oct 2011 16:41:18 +0000 First, a couple of apparent typos:
second time -> second type
explicated -> ??? explicitly ???

I won’t dispute your expert findings from your own observations, but let me tell you that there are “hackers” [crackers] who have expert communication skills, and whose motivation for hacking grows out of their pathologically self-centred personality.

I am thinking, for example, of one person who broke into my computer in order to obstruct my progress in meeting agreed work objectives, so he could accuse me of incompetence and stage a leadership coup in our work-group. Or, for example, of the many I.T. professionals I have known who show no signs of “autistic spectrum disorders” whatsoever in their social lives, but who feel a need to build up their own little kingdom in the I.T. department, backed up with all sorts of arcane bureaucratic rules they have invented to make themselves feel more powerful.

[From a computer science graduate, who does some work in computer security.]