Various people today have different views about the hacking scene. People of similar skill level often have similar opinions. There is no official definition of a hacker among the masses but rather a vague idea. Moreover, the media loves to attach false information to attract the attention of audiences around the country, for the sake of pure money.
It all started at MIT in the 1960s, the root of the word ‘hacker’, where highly talented individuals in FORTRAN and other older languages performed rigorous programming. Some may be ignorantly dubbing them ‘nerds’ or ‘geeks’, but these people were by far the smartest, most individual, and intellectually advanced people who happen to be the pioneers and forefathers of the talented individuals that are today the true hackers. Among our societies the true hackers have an unquenchable thirst for information. Boredom is never an item for hackers to question. They have an almost anomalous capacity to learn, maintain, and exercise enormous quantities of information in complicated material. Bell Labs employee Ken Thompson invented UNIX in 1969, which changed the computing industry’s future forever. Then, very early in the 1970s, Dennis Ritchie developed the computer programming language ‘C’ that was explicitly created for use with UNIX. Programmers stopped using assembler, while developing an appreciation for ‘C’ portability.
Hackers used to be seen as nonstop, hours on end, men who sat locked in a room all day programming. Back in the 1960s, when this was the most commonly accepted image, nobody seemed to mind hackers. Most people in fact had no idea what hacking was like. The term ‘hacker’ has been accepted as a positive label slapped onto computer gurus who can push computer systems beyond the limits set. In the 1960s Hackers emerged from MIT’s artificial intelligence labs. ARPANET became the first WAN with distributed packet switching and the first to introduce the TCP/IP protocol suite. These two technologies have become the technical backbone of the Internet. The ARPANET was created by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (ARPA) (evolved into what is today known as the Internet).
In the 1970s, ‘Captain Crunch’ invented a way to make free long-distance calls and telephone hacker groups, later dubbed ‘phreakers’. Throughout the 1970s and halfway through the 1980s, the Palo Alto Research Center (PARC) at XEROX spit out fresh new technologies such as the laser printer and LANs.
The word ‘cyberspace’ was derived from a book called ‘Neuromancer’ in the early 1980s. A group called the ‘414s’ is one of the first hacker groups ever to be investigated by the FBI, and they are charged with 60 intrusions into the machine. At this time, Usenet started popping up around the nation and hackers were exchanging thoughts using their UNIX based machines. When it all happened, the Secret Service has authority over credit card and computer fraud. Hacking was not recognized among the masses as it is now, during the 1980s. Being a hacker was being part of a very exclusive, secluded group. The notorious hacker groups the US-based ‘Legion of Doom’ and the German-based ‘Chaos Computer Club’, two of the most commonly known and respected hacker groups were created and still are. Another important foundation is the one of ‘2600: The Hacker Quarterly’, an old school hacker magazine or ‘zine’. 2600 Magazine still plays a role in the hacker community today. As the decade comes to a close, Kevin Mitnick was convicted on charges of stealing software and destroying computers, and sentenced to one year in jail. Additionally, at that time federal officials raided Atlanta, where some members of the Doom Legion resided. The LOUD, CCC, and 2600 Magazine have been widely known and remembered as old school hackers. During the 1990s, Kevin Mitnick was arrested after Tsutomu Shimomura had tracked him down. Kevin Mitnick’s trials were among the most widely publicized hacker trials in hacker history.
As hackers and time progressed, hackers were finding ways to exploit holes in local and remote machine operating systems. Hackers also developed techniques for harnessing security gaps in various computer systems. As protocols are being updated, hackers are testing them on an endless mission to make computing safer. In fact, the hackers have a tendency to exploit society. Categories such as ‘breaking’ dealing with breaking codes, ‘phreaking’ dealing with the manipulation of telephone networks and ‘social engineering’ dealing with the abuse of human capital have been spinoffed. The desire to hack into computer systems emerged when hacking was based solely on curiosity. Curiosity regarding what the system did, how it was possible to use the system, how the system did what it did and why it did what it did. Some modern-day hackers archive exploit on their computers, but archiving and using exploits certainly isn’t what modern hackers do. Media figures and the general public all too frequently confuse those who deface web sites, steal numbers of credit cards and/or money, and otherwise constantly cause hackers to the masses. You have to think: ‘Well, that’s not what hackers do? They gain unauthorized access to computers’, and you would be technically correct. However, they don’t do all of that. Hackers discover and expose the weaknesses in computer systems that could stay hidden if not discovered, and one day contribute to the destruction of our highly computer-dependent society. In a way, hackers are e-communication regulators. Hackers are developing innovative new computer systems and technologies that will make life simpler for all mankind.
If you know it or not, I know from personal experience that you know that everybody might very well lead an unexposed hacker-life. Hackers are living between us all. They work in many of our large companies and in several small businesses. Others choose to use their skills to support our government, others prefer to make more cynical to destructive use of their skills. If you look around you, you see any individual is a potential hacker. Sometimes, the least you can think of is the individuals who are the hackers of our community.