Thursday, November 11, 2010

Computer Hackers and We

The movies helped us conjure an image of a computer hacker as a shabbily dressed, nerdy, bespectacled individual surrounded by gizmos, perpetually looking into a computer screen surrounded by half eaten pizza and bottles of beer. Most hackers are in reality, passionate, well dressed, highly informed and delightful to talk too.
I have been fortunate to meet several hackers and found among them, a remarkable similarity in their desire to break into things and find out how to exploit them. Let me recount an incident, with a hacker colleague of mine who purchased an expensive newly launched smart phone.  Within two months he purchased a new phone as he broke the earlier phone when he tried modifying the operating system and firmware. I did not ask him why!
This thought brought me back to my childhood. I still remember the toys my father brought me and the urge I had to open them up to see how they worked. I always believed I could put them back together which unfortunately, was never the case. It however did not deter me from breaking the next toy that came my way.
I believe this to be a childhood event common to most of us. As we moved on in life we did not pursue this curiosity as a hacker did. In the past hackers were motivated by fun, fame, a form of protest, to save money or simply because they felt firms charged too much for goods and services such as telephone calls. Today, it’s for money, profit, a form of protest, or to become professional security consultants.

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