The Good the Bad to Hacking

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  • Topic: Black hat, Grey hat, White hat
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  • Published : March 24, 2008
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The Good, The Bad, and The Inbetweens of Hacking
“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. 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...
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