Tuesday, 13 September 2011

Hacker, Cracker and Penetrator.

So what does the title make you think of? well if your reasonably intelligent or have watched a few movies you can guess what hacker/cracker are and can probably surmise what a Penetrator is.

First lets cover hacker then and now. Originally the term hacker came out from the underground computer scene. You could hack away at computer code and be quite comfortable with the moniker. You could also modify your own PC's and be quite happy with the name.

Now roll on to the '80s and the release of War Games and the term "hacker" becomes synonomous with someone who breaks into computer systems either malliciouly or just for kicks. As most of you will know Hollywood is one of the biggest sources of Computer inveteracies in media. Anyone recall in Clear and Present Danger where Harrison Ford prints a document by hitting print screen. Or nearly every movie involving some sort of computer geek, a guy with a laptop can connect to and "hack" into any number of secured computer systems in seconds.

Now someone who breaks into computer systems is actually called a cracker and like with most things these days they come in a variety of flavours. You have white hat, black hat and "ethical" penetration tester.

Now a white hat Cracker is someone who does it for the greater good. They rip apart code/security systems in the hope that it will make companies invest in better security and tighter code. Now black hat Crackers are the opposite they do the same as above for mainly selfish motives, money, fame, power or just the thrill of doing something illicit. Penetration testers are people who are employed to test code and security systems to make sure they are robust enough to keep black hat Crackers at bay

If you were wondering what "black hats" and "White hats" had to do with computers. It stems from the old wild west movies where the bad guys wore black and the good guys wore white (Lone ranger).

So my point is that a very wide ranging term that was initially meant to differentiate the casual computer user from the more serious or technical user is now being used in a almost insulting and derogatory way to talk about people who are essentially digital vandals.

So please help me to take up the cause and take back this term from the uneducated and technically challenged and reclaim for ourselves because after all the geeks will inherits the earth.