Feeds

Hackers: cyber saviours or snake-oil salesmen?

Should we buy into these cultural harbingers?

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

Surrounded by sycophantic applause and loud guffaws at weak jokes, a strange, nervous twitch started to develop. Similar to entering the Blue Oyster bar*, the Hackers Forum was not the kind of place an old-style, cynical hack is welcome. Up on stage at London's Olympia is "one of the strongest line-ups of hacking experts ever assembled in the UK". In the audience, a mixture of geeks, hacker wannabes and security firm employees. Hackers have moved from being cyber-terrorists and malicious intruders to modern saviours, knights of the e-table. As long as he doesn't approve of the actual attacks, a hacker is a cult hero. Hackers are the little men fighting back, two fingers up to multi-national corporations - vive la revolution! And being British, we buy into this underdog culture. They're raising the security barrier, showing how huge firms just throw money at the net without understanding it, they bring down porn sites when the authorities are helpless to intervene. As one speaker quips: "We should be making 'Thank a hacker' bumper stickers" (much laughter). We're all very cosy. Typical "questions" are: "I'd just like to say that I think your program is amazing"; "Why don't people understand what you're trying to do?". All that's missing is some US-style whooping. When someone interrupted the party to ask how they justify their hacking software - free and used by hundreds of bored teenagers everywhere - he is arrogantly interrupted: "They're called 'script kiddies'." "I don't give a 4xxx what you call them, I want to know how you justify your actions" - that, at least, was what he wanted to say but he'd never have made it out of the door alive. The reality is, no matter what they say, media-friendly hackers and those evil-nasty hackers wot do the damage are the same breed. They learn the same skills in the same places, even if they are not driven by exactly the same passions. That one goes in front of an audience and says it is for the hacked company's own benefit is irrelevant. In its way, hacking is the equivalent of graffiti artists in the 80s. At first, graffiti was a manifestation of bored youth, then a cult activity. Condemned, it reached the media, which then turned such artists into celebrities and sparked off a million other graffiti sprayers. It became an art form and virtual social acceptance was assured. This is where we are with hacking. With any luck, it will go the same way as graffiti - the main players will fade, its impact will be put into perspective and it will become nothing more than an irritation. That said, it was difficult to hide a smirk when the workings of two of the latest and greatest pieces of anti-hacking software (as explained to The Reg by the companies' VPs at a trade show) were torn to pieces by a hacker - within seconds. ® * Blue Oyster bar - Leather-based gay bar from the Police Academy series. A running gag was that people would enter a non-descript backdoor to hide and then find themselves among a mass of gay bikers who proceeded to dance the Tango with them.

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk

More from The Register

next story
The 'fun-nification' of computer education – good idea?
Compulsory code schools, luvvies love it, but what about Maths and Physics?
Facebook, Apple: LADIES! Why not FREEZE your EGGS? It's on the company!
No biological clockwatching when you work in Silicon Valley
Happiness economics is bollocks. Oh, UK.gov just adopted it? Er ...
Opportunity doesn't knock; it costs us instead
Ex-US Navy fighter pilot MIT prof: Drones beat humans - I should know
'Missy' Cummings on UAVs, smartcars and dying from boredom
Yes, yes, Steve Jobs. Look what I'VE done for you lately – Tim Cook
New iPhone biz baron points to Apple's (his) greatest successes
Lords take revenge on REVENGE PORN publishers
Jilted Johns and Jennies with busy fingers face two years inside
Sysadmin with EBOLA? Gartner's issued advice to debug your biz
Start hoarding cleaning supplies, analyst firm says, and assume your team will scatter
Edward who? GCHQ boss dodges Snowden topic during last speech
UK spies would rather 'walk' than do 'mass surveillance'
Doctor Who's Flatline: Cool monsters, yes, but utterly limp subplots
We know what the Doctor does, stop going on about it already
prev story

Whitepapers

Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
Why and how to choose the right cloud vendor
The benefits of cloud-based storage in your processes. Eliminate onsite, disk-based backup and archiving in favor of cloud-based data protection.
Three 1TB solid state scorchers up for grabs
Big SSDs can be expensive but think big and think free because you could be the lucky winner of one of three 1TB Samsung SSD 840 EVO drives that we’re giving away worth over £300 apiece.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.