Thursday, April 14, 2011

Who is a hacker? Explain what is meant by “the hacker ethic” with the help of a contemporary example.

Hacker is a term used by some to mean "a clever programmer" and by others, especially those in popular media, to mean "someone who tries to break into computer systems.The idea of hacking emerged in 1960's at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. The primitive form of hacking , phone phreaking started during the late 60's .In the 1970s the cyber frontier was wide open. Hacking was all about exploring and figuring out how the wired world worked. John Draper, a Vietnam vet, makes a long-distance call for free by blowing a precise tone into a telephone that tells the phone system to open a line. Draper discovered the whistle as a give-away in a box of children's cereal. Draper, who later earns the handle "Captain Crunch," is arrested repeatedly for phone tampering throughout the 1970s.Hacking and phone phreaking may well have been founded in the attempt by marginal persons to gain entry to a world that had been denied to them, but once they made it their own, they re- produced its features more or less intact.
Steven Levy, in the book Hackers, talks at length about what he calls the ``hacker ethic.'' This phrase is very misleading. What he has discovered is the Hacker Aesthetic, the standards for art criticism of hacks. For example, when Richard Stallman says that information should be given out freely, his opinion is not based on a notion of property as theft, which (right or wrong) would be an ethical position. His argument is that keeping information secret is inefficient; it leads to anaesthetic duplication of effort.The objective of hackers were not merely to win access to computer systems for themselves, but to make them available to the wider public.Sherry Turkle in her article says that the only art a hacker embraces is music.The hacker listens , not to its sound of music, but to its structure.She also notices that majority of hackers are young men, mostly teenagers, who have found a world within the computer in which they can mold their desires.

Kevin Mitnick is a self-proclaimed "hacker poster boy,"Mitnickwent through a highly publicized pursuit by authorities. His mischief was hyped by the media but his actual offenses may be less notable than his notoriety suggests. The Department of Justice describes him as "the most wanted computer criminal in United States history." His exploits were detailed in two movies: Freedom Downtime and Takedown.
Mitnick had a bit of hacking experience before committing the offenses that made him famous. He started out exploiting the Los Angeles bus punch card system to get free rides. Then, like Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak, dabbled in phone phreaking. Although there were numerous offenses, Mitnick was ultimately convicted for breaking into the Digital Equipment Corporation's computer network and stealing software.
Mitnick's mischief got serious when he went on a two and a half year "coast-to-coast hacking spree." The CNN article, "Legendary computer hacker released from prison," explains that "he hacked into computers, stole corporate secrets, scrambled phone networks and broke into the national defense warning system." He then hacked into computer expert and fellow hacker Tsutomu Shimomura's home computer, which led to his undoing.
Today, Mitnick has been able to move past his role as a black hat hacker and become a productive member of society. He served five years, about 8 months of it in solitary confinement, and is now a computer security consultant, author and speaker.


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