The Past, Present and Future of Computer Hacking

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  • Topic: Hacker, Black hat, Grey hat
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  • Published : November 24, 2008
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The Past, Present and Future of Computer Hacking

Society relies heavily on technology for many things, but our use of technology opens us up to become victims of cybercrimes, like computer hacking. Hackers can be divided into three main categories: novice, intermediate, and elite. Hacking has been in the information technology (IT) field for a while. The first hackers appeared in the nineteen sixties and hackers have continued to make progress since then. People hack for a variety of reasons including ego, fun, knowledge, and profit. The first major hacking program, SATAN, caused controversy in 1995, and numerous hacking programs exist today. The future of hacking looks bright because people will only continue to rely even heavier on technology and as the IT field expands, so will the hacking community.

The Past, Present and Future of Computer Hacking
Our society is increasingly relying on the internet and computers in order to complete numerous tasks. People can grocery shop, earn degrees, receive bank statements and pay bills from their laptop or PC. The possibilities are endless when it comes to simplifying life with the help of the world wide web, but at the same time possibilities are endless hackers to complicate your life with cybercrimes. The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines a hacker as both “an expert at programming and solving problems with a computer” and “a person who illegally gains access to and sometimes tampers with information in a computer system” (Merriam-Webster Inc.,1997, 337). These two definitions mirror the two sides of hacking – cracking and hacking – that exist in the cyber world. The term cracker was developed by hackers in 1985 in response to the misuse of the word hacker. A White Hat hacker is someone who breaks into systems in order to expose weaknesses while a Black Hat cracker is a criminal who breaks security on a system for illegal purposes (Schell & Martin 2004, 1). Hackers can be broken up into three main levels of classification: novice, intermediate, and elite. Novice hackers only possess minimal technical skills and make up the largest segment of hackers. Being that they make up the largest group, novice hackers have many sublevels. In his book Inside Internet Security: What Hackers Don’t Want You to Know, Jeff Crume defines a script kiddie as “a derogatory slang term for novice hackers who, lacking significant technical skills and imagination, rely entirely on attack tools (i.e. scripts) written by other more skilled hackers” (Crume 2000, 256). Peter Lilley describes phreakers and crackers in his book Hacked, Attacked & Abused: Digital Crime Exposed. Phreakers are persons who make free long distance calls by hacking into long distance telecommunications systems and networks; and a cracker is someone who ‘cracks’ open a computer with malicious intent (Lilley 2002, 41-42). Intermediate hackers are smaller in number and have a better understanding of what they are doing than novice hackers do. They also have more computer and technical skills than novices, but they lack the experience and reputation of elite hackers but can cause substantial damage to systems. Elite hackers are the smallest and most skilled group of hackers. Elite hackers understand complex systems and the inner workings of major systems. They are capable of breaking into most systems and their creative work is usually used by novice and intermediate hackers. Most hackers and cyber criminals tend to be male. In their book Cybercrime, Bernadette Schell and Clemens Martin discuss a 2001 survey of women in information technology fields conducted by the firm Deloitte & Touche. The survey showed that “…three of every five women in IT would choose another profession if they could” and that the women said they were “perceived to be less knowledgeable and qualified than the men that they worked with” (Schell & Martin 2004, 155). The first hackers appeared in the 1960s at...
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