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By definition a hacker is “a person who enjoys exploring the details of programmable systems and stretching their capabilities, as opposed to most users, who prefer to learn only the minimum necessary.” Using this definition, the Myjive team could be deemed a group hackers, because we are always trying to push the boundaries of the technology at our disposal. Our mentality is “choose to evolve.” If it’s hacking the connect to create gesture based interfaces and experiences or trying to maximize a CMS’s capabilities to better serve our clients, we continually strive to make the experiences we create better. To see a couple of hacks that we have already done please see our projects for Electrosonic or BMW Mini.

However, the mainstream media and notion of a hacker differs quite a bit. Hackers are seen as people who use their computer programming skills to “illegally infiltrate secure systems with the intention of doing harm to the system.” By this definition, groups and hackers like Anonymous and Lulzsec only fit this definition. Unfortunately, these “Black Hat” hackers tend to receive the media attention, even though there are more than just malicious hackers out there. There are also White and grey Hat hackers. White-hat hackers refers to “an ethical hacker, or a computer security expert, who specializes in penetration testing and in other testing methodologies to ensure the security of an organization’s information systems” While a grey-hat hacker is a mixture of the black and white hats. They “sometimes arguably act illegally, though in good will, or to show how they disclose vulnerabilities.”

John Connor hacking into atm

So in general, are hackers good or bad?

My personal opinion is that hackers are good, even though I don’t like some of their methods. Across the board, hackers show you the weaknesses in computer programs, hardware and networks. They also show you how far a program or piece of hardware can be pushed both creatively and technically. Also, for those companies that are open to their products being hacked, it shows how to make their products more secure or what their customers really want them to produce. We can see an example of this in the case of the Xbox Kinect and all the hacks that have been produced with that piece of hardware. Lastly, they can help protect our rights. For example, Anonymous has stepped up and actively protested the SOPA/PIPA bills in the U.S. Congress and supported Tunisia and Syria in their recent upheavals. Unfortunately, along with showing support in legal protests, they have also resorted to malicious attacks on supporters of these events, which in my personal opinion is unacceptable.

References:
Wikipedia
Hacker Culture
White Hat
Grey Hat

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    2 Comments

    1. Hackers, no matter the sort, are the great tinkerers of the world. They constantly bend the frames that they work within, sometimes raising awareness, exploring some intricacies, and sometimes causing harm. It is vital that people distinguish between those hackers who have and do not have malicious intent, but it can be hard to do that; malicious intent depends largely on perspective in many of these cases.

      Certainly, as you say, hackers are good. But we may not yet see the price we pay for the maneuvers that some promote. They have given help to oppressed people, but that should not excuse the tactics they use to convey their message. Taking credit card information in order to harm the company that holds it has more potential to harm the innocent credit card owners.

      What worries me most about this digital vigilantism, though, is what may come in response. How can we – our government – build an environment in which pilfering credit card data becomes more difficult but leave room for wonderful analyses on the Nintendo Wii’s internals? The quickest solution is surely to prohibit both—there are myriad ways that someone can use the information that hackers unearth.

      The tinkerer’s spirit has brought us an untold number of implements since the dawn of humanity. Seeking to completely cast aside one of its more recent permutations in favor of corporate security does little good. But hacker vigilantes have surpassed their desire for tinkering and have put politics in their sight, and, in politics, there is always grey, rarely black and white.

      There’s no single answer to the questions that hackers raise. I only hope that the response will be appropriately delicate.