The infrastructure of the Internet, the source of our information network gives us limitless space, “free flow of information” and convenience for everyone to utilize. This has given birth to yet another culture as a result of the rise of technology, the ‘hacking culture’. Also known as counter-networks, it consists of online activism, whistle blowers and such. Cyber-libertarians are part of online activism which focuses on “information freedom” for everyone and utilizes the “net as an electronic frontier” (Mitew 2012). These cyber-libertarians utilize hacking in certain areas in order to gain this information which they believe should be shared by everyone freely on the Internet.
Hacking culture came about from the discovery of ‘cryptanalysis’. The first emergence of cryptanalysis however, was through the Enigma machine. The Enigma machine was created in “1923 as a commercial product produced by German named Arthur Scherbius” (Guba 2012). It led to the German military use of the enigma in World War 2 to encipher and decipher codes without being understood by the intelligence agencies of other countries. Nevertheless, this did not last because soon after, Polish mathematician Marian Rajewski hacks the Enigma machine managing to decipher it successfully. That incident would later prove to be the first ever trace or resemblance of the term ‘hacking’ in history.
Later in the 1960s, there was hacking through “electronic phone network switchboards”, also known as “phone phreaking” (Mitew 2012). This was when there was the existence of telephones and telephone lines. Fast forward to the 21st century, now with the presence of the Internet, there are hackers who decipher information technology codes through computers, to hack into phone switches, mainframes and even government servers. From this, we can observe that the evolution of hacking has been parallel to the evolution of technology. This led to the development of a ‘hacking subculture’ which involved hacker magazines and ‘leet speak’ among others. Examples of hacker magazines are such as Phrack and 2600 which was started up in 1985 and 1984 respectively. Leet speak on the other hand refers to hacker slangs, which are certain way of typing words only hackers would understand, for example words like “n00b” which stands for ‘newbie’ and “w00t” which shows a sort of cheer of excitement.
An example of the capabilities of hacking is the story of WikiLeaks, which was started up by Julian Paul Assange in 2006, on his misson for “total transparency” (Khatchadourian 2010). Assange utilizes hacking in order to gain top secret information from governments all over the world and anything else they are trying to feed the public falsely, hide or cover up. He feels people should know the truth about what is going on in the world and that governments who are corrupted should have their wrongdoings unveiled. This is very beneficial as citizens everywhere deserve to know the truth of what is going on in the world. Assange, “a cryptographer of exceptional skill”, also pioneered the hacker subculture’s first few rules, which were “Don’t damage computer systems you break into (including crashing them); don’t change the information in those systems (except for altering logs to cover your tracks); and share information.” (Khatchadourian 2010).
In hacking there are two categories of hackers, which are the “white hats” and “black hats” (Nafis 2012). Most hackers have almost the same purpose, which is to find out the truth and other top secret information with a purpose to inform the public of the truth. However, these are the white hat hackers who are the good guys of the hacking world. They not only find the truth but also put up good defenses against the black hats. Black hats are the evil hackers on the other hand who wish to bring down websites and serve their own selfish purposes. They are the dangers of hacking now in our modern world which just goes to show that just like everything else in life, counter networks or hackers also have their fair share of benefits and disadvantages.
Yes, I am a criminal. My crime is that of curiosity. My crime is that of judging people by what they say and think, not what they look like.
My crime is that of outsmarting you, something that you will never forgive me for.
I am a hacker, and this is my manifesto. You may stop this individual, but you can’t stop us all… after all, we’re all alike. – The Mentor, 1986
Guba, A 2012, Enigma, The Core Memory, accessed 26/10/2012, http://www.thecorememory.com/html/enigma.html
The Mentor 1986, The Conscience of a Hacker, Phrack, accessed 26/10/2012, http://www.phrack.org/issues.html?issue=7&id=3&mode=txt
Khatchadourian, R 2010, ‘No Secrets: Julian Assange’s mission for total transparency’ The New Yorker, 7 June, accessed 26/10/2012, http://www.newyorker.com/reporting/2010/06/07/100607fa_fact_khatchadourian?currentPage=3
Mitew, T 2012, DIGC202 Counter-Networks, lecture notes, accessed 26/10/2012, http://prezi.com/hotqlxztvxdb/digc202-counter-networks/
Nafis, F 2012, Counter-Networks, lecture, DIGC202, Global Networks, University of Wollongong, delivered 22 October.