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There is a common misconception that computer hacking is a bad thing. Computer hacking is not necessarily evil and comes in many forms. The hacker community generally recognizes 2 or 3 different kinds of hackers. All have different motivations, different strategies, and different worldviews.
Black Hat Hackers (crackers)
Black hat hackers, or crackers as they are often referred to, are the types of hackers we all envision and see in the movies. These guys (and gals) are bold, powerful, and just want to break stuff. Black hat hackers often come in the form of younger kids (script kiddies) who rely on other people’s code plus some homemade “optimizations” to cause problems for other programs/computers/websites. These hackers are driven by the fun and the power obtained from causing these programs to bend to their newly imposed rules. Although this type of hacking can technically become very lucrative, stealing credit card numbers isn’t the way it’s done. The black hat hacker is underground, and deals with an underground sort of clientele.
White Hat Hackers
White hat hackers, as you may have guessed, are the polar opposite of the black hat hacker. These hackers use their powers for good, and fend off the evil black hats as their full time gig. White hat hackers will end up in a government job or working at a bank to help plug up security risks that the black hats may try to exploit. Interestingly enough, a lot of these white hats came from the dark side. Many white hat hackers were evil in their younger, immature days.
Grey Hat Hackers
Grey hat hackers are again, exactly what you might imagine (something tells me a computer genius didn’t come up with this nomenclature). These hackers walk the fine line between good and evil, often times breaking things that may cause harm, but they do it to prove a point, or to make the world a better place. This is often where we run into “hacktivism”. Hactivism is the advancement of political or personal ideologies by hacking into an “enemy” system. The recent outbreaks of Anonymous and LulzSec are great examples of hacktivism.
Perek Grows up
As a devoted Apple fanboy, I love rolling around in the comfort that is virus-free-computers. The Mac simply doesn’t get them (yet). In trolling through the numbers though, it becomes pretty clear pretty quickly that Apple just doesn’t have a big enough market share to warrant an attack. Why attack something that will gain you almost no visibility? Windows has the most users and therefore is under the most attack. As apple rises in popularity, so will the viruses and hacks. So buy one now before they get too popular! 😉
In The News
The news is blowing up with computer hacking in recent months/weeks/days/hours. Some major h4ck5 are taking place at some of the most secure points on the interweb. The CIA, the Senate, Sony Pictures Entertainment, Public Broadcasting, ATM Networks, all of these are being hacked into and data is being posted all over the place. The culprit? Well, if they knew, it wouldn’t be happening. But, a group of hackers under the organization name of LulzSec is taking lots of the credit. LulzSec is (was) a group of apparently 6 hackers wreaking havoc in the online world. I’d give you a link to their website but to be honest I’m a bit scared going there myself. IF you’re interested, Google it (unless Google got hacked). You can also find out more on some other obscure websites like the New York Times.
Now – change your pants, and try this
Reading all this stuff freaked me out. And a hack ratio of 75% within the Good Guys To Know is high enough to get me to take action. The most common places you or I will get hacked are our email programs or Facebook. Here are a couple links that show you how to check if you’ve been hacked, and what to do about it. The basic logic? MAKE YOUR PASSWORD VERY COMPLEX, AND DON’T REUSE IT EVERYWHERE!
Good luck out there, an ounce of paranoia is worth a pound of patches…