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The "Hacker" Label

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posted on May, 5 2013 @ 06:22 AM
The over-application of the word hacker really annoys me. It is like the computer equivalent calling someone a witch. Just as any sufficiently advanced technology is considered magic by people who do not understand the mechanisms that make it possible, we now call any sufficiently advanced manipulation of computer data the work of a hacker if that action goes against the interests of a business or government.

Witch was a label once used to demonize people who defied church authority, and after it was applied to someone the mob was happy to burn them. Hacker is now similarly used to demonize anyone who defies governmental or business authorities. Because nearly all government and business is computerized people tend to label any method of data manipulation that defies the authority of a business or government as the work of a hacker.

Someone guessed your poorly-chosen facebook password and defaced your page? HACKER! The pizza shop employee used the credit card number, which he acquired because you GAVE IT TO HIM, to make an illegal purchase online? HACKER! It removes any blame from the facebook user for ignoring the password guidelines provided, or the consumer who decided that the pizza guy was trustworthy enough to hold his credit card info.

The problem with this is that, while the examples I mentioned above are instances of people with malicious intent, the word is equally applied by the media regardless of the intent or actions of the person. If an action goes against the interests of business or government and a computer was used at any point in the process it is labeled as the work of a hacker.

An activist used free, easy to use disc forensic software to recover his files after they were deleted by a corrupt cop? HACKER!!! Has someone you know removed an approved OS and installed a free, open source alternative? HACKER!!! You encrypted your data, and will not provide the key to law enforcement? HACKER!!! An activist downloaded public information that was being sold at profit, and made it freely available? HACKER!!! A whistleblower leaked incriminating information about their employer? HACKER!!! BURN THE HACKERS!!!

So the hacker label is given a negative connotation, then applied to anyone who does anything using a computer if that action is considered a threat to a government or business. In contrast, the spy agencies are not referred to as hackers when they monitor the communications and movements of citizens. Data mining is not referred to as hacking if it is done by a "reputable" business. An ISP that throttles certain types of data, or specific users, are not said to be hacking. A government backdoor built into a device or its software is not a called hacking. A small network of powerful banking interests fixing the world's markets is not called hacking. A business that uses its government connections to secure no-bid contracts is not hacking.

I'm not talking about the old white hat vs black hat distinction, but the way that the word has entered the lexicon to transcend that. The meaning of a word can change over time, and the potential rate of transformation has surely been accelerated by technology. The original definition (these are my own informal definitions) of "hacker" was something like "slang for MIT student who tinkers with model trains". Over time, it came to mean "person who has a tendency to deconstruct systems in an effort understand their functions so they may alter those functions". Later, when the systems in question were being used to control everything from banking to military logistics it morphed into "A person who is knowledgeable enough about computers to be considered a potential threat if they are feeling mischievous or motivated by greed".

My hypothesis is that this word has, in recent years, been purposely redefined by the media to mean "anyone who does anything even peripherally related to technology that we don't want them to do".

posted on May, 11 2013 @ 04:26 PM
Great thread OP S&F for you sir. You echo my sentiments exactly. It makes it worse that someone can be punished more severely for hacking then for some types of murder. It is ridiculous. It is like a modern day witch hunt at times. The government is taking advantage of the general public's low knowledge of how computer systems work to implement laws that are very harsh for otherwise small things.

posted on May, 11 2013 @ 05:08 PM

Originally posted by Slugworth
You encrypted your data, and will not provide the key to law enforcement? HACKER!!!

Lol. S&F for that one.

The elite know that hackers have the ability to shut down the entire system if they wanted to. That is why they are currently black-balled.

rm *.*

anyone ?

posted on May, 11 2013 @ 06:19 PM
reply to post by Rapha

The elite know that hackers have the ability to shut down the entire system if they wanted to.

I'm sorry, but this is exactly the type of thinking that I am pointing to in the OP. Why do you believe this? The "entire system" is a massive beast far beyond the control of any person or group who is conventionally labeled as a hacker by the media. If you believe that some geeks can meet up on IRC and plan out a way to shut down the nation's infrastructure then you are believing the propaganda. It is like saying "The Church fears witches because they know that witches could shut down the sun and make it rain frogs if they wanted to".

If anyone has the ability to do something that severe it would be a cyber-warfare project at a foreign war department.....or our own war department.

posted on May, 14 2013 @ 08:43 AM
Hackers are pretty much have reverse engineering abilities and diagnosing abilities.

I hack the communications. I've found TONS of useful information but I can't post it on the internet because of echelon. The government will never let any of the information I've found out to the public. I really doubt it.

"A house that stands against itself cannot stand" - I forget... holy book perhaps?

This quote in the terms that I am about to speak about according to everyone and who they are inside is about how everyone is different. Since everyone is different in personality and desire - some people will not want my studies and they will either not accept it or won't even care.

Because of this - Our society is like a house that stands against itself. Because everyone is different in personality and desire we will never come together as one and change how we do things on this planet.

There will never be peace unless the computer that we are in allows it.

posted on May, 14 2013 @ 10:37 AM
It's because most of the media talking about this subject do not know much about the subject they are talking about.

I could see the downward spiral for the majority when a file system directory became known as a 'folder'.

posted on May, 14 2013 @ 10:56 AM

Originally posted by roadgravel

I could see the downward spiral for the majority when a file system directory became known as a 'folder'.

hehe i remember that, quite a while back in 1978ish, apple lisa?

posted on May, 14 2013 @ 11:00 AM
reply to post by Slugworth

To me, a hacker is anyone who operates the normal functions of anything. It doesn't have to be a computer, it could be anything.

I agree that the term hacker has been associated with a negative or illegal action, but that really isn't the case.

posted on May, 14 2013 @ 11:54 AM

We at TMRC use the term "hacker" only in its original meaning, someone who applies ingenuity to create a clever result, called a "hack". The essence of a "hack" is that it is done quickly, and is usually inelegant. It accomplishes the desired goal without changing the design of the system it is embedded in. Despite often being at odds with the design of the larger system, a hack is generally quite clever and effective.

This original benevolent meaning stands in stark contrast to the later and more commonly used meaning of a "hacker", typically as a person who breaks into computer networks in order to steal or vandalize. Here at TMRC, where the words "hack" and "hacker" originated and have been used proudly since the late 1950s, we resent the misapplication of the word to mean the committing of illegal acts. People who do those things are better described by expressions such as "thieves", "password crackers". or "computer vandals". They are certainly not true hackers, as they do not understand the hacker ethic.

...As above...

This term seems to have been first adopted as a badge in the 1960s by the hacker culture surrounding TMRC (Tech Model Railroad Club) and the MIT AI Lab

...More modern definition

A person who enjoys exploring the details of programmable systems and how to stretch their capabilities, as opposed to most users, who prefer to learn only the minimum necessary. RFC1392, the Internet Users' Glossary, usefully amplifies this as: A person who delights in having an intimate understanding of the internal workings of a system, computers and computer networks in particular.

edit on 5/14/2013 by roadgravel because: tags

posted on May, 20 2013 @ 11:09 PM
Hacker is a cyber age term for being an R&D person.

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