The History Of Programmer Subculture Hacker Information Technology Essay

From North America to South America to Asia, computer-related misconduct is an ever-growing problem in the public and the private sectors for many reasons. Almost every nation either it is industrial or developing is becoming increasingly dependent on new digital information technologies to perform legal, commercial and governmental functions. These new information technologies have contributed a lot towards social wellbeing in a vast number of advantageous ways but they have also exposed a number of important interests to possible invasions or attacks. [11]

Hacking is defined as the re-programming of a system in such a way so that the system functions the way that the owner, designer or administrator of system does not want. In computer science and in the field of technology, hacking has several meanings. [1]

“Hacking is a world defined by infinitely powerful computers and vast computer networks that create alternative universes filled with electronic demons”. [9]

“Hack” normally means a “clever” or “quick” fix to a problem that has occurred in a computer program.

“Hack” and “hacking” also means to modify a program or device so that unavailable characters can be accessed by the user. This definition of hacking is often misunderstood and gives raise to evil criminal uses such as fraud in credit cards, identity theft etc. There is also a big difference between hacking and security breaking. Security breaking would more likely be called as “cracking” rather than hacking.

In computer programming now a days, “hack” refers to a method that functions correctly but the concept of this function I really “ugly” and it works outside the boundaries of the accepted structures of the environment.

Many websites use the word “hack” as slang for “copy”, “rip-off” or “restriction”.[1]


A hacker is simply a person who hacks.

In Computer Science, it is a term used for many kinds of persons such as:

Computer security Hacker:

This kind of hacker is also called “cracker”. This type of hacker accesses a computer system by making changes to its security system.

Programmer subculture Hacker:

This kind of hacker shares an anti-controlling approach to software progression

Which is now associated with the free software movement.

Hobbyist Hacker:

This type of hacker does hacking for fun. Such hacker makes modern customizations of retail electronic and computer tools.

Different fields use various meanings of hacker; some of the examples are as follows:

Media hacker:

Media hacker is the one who is the innovative user of digital media.

Wetware hacker:

Wetware hacker is the person who experiments with biological equipments.

Reality hacking:

This kind of hacker takes advantage of the legally doubtful disturbance of digital media. [2]

History of Hacking:

The word “hack” was first used in mid-1960s by US University computing center staff. Phrases like “quick hack” and “ugly hack” was used before but later on “cool hack” and “neat hack” was used.

During the 1970’s, a different kind of hacker emerged known as the phreaks or phone hackers. They learned how to hack the telephonic system and then they made free phone calls. Because of this simple discovery, the phone phreakers became famous. Then there was a person named John Draper who was also known as Captain Crunch, found that he could make long distance calls with a whistle. He made that possible by building a blue box that could do this and after that the Esquire magazine published an article on how to build these blue boxes. By this discovery, two kids named Steve Wozniak and Steve Jobs were attracted and they decided to sell these blue boxes. [8]

In 1980s, Phone phreaks started to migrate to computers which resulted in the first Bulletin Board Systems (BBS). BBS was the same as yahoo, msn etc groups nowadays where people post messages about different topics. The BBS was also used by hackers who were specialized in tips on how to break into other people’s computers, how to use credit card numbers that were stolen online and they also used to share stolen computer passwords.

In 1986, the US government finally realized that hackers can be dangerous for the nation. In order to overcome this problem, the Congress made computer breaking a crime across the nation and passed the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act. [8]

The term has acquired a more common meaning after 1980s. According to this new definition of hacking, it is a program that modifies another program and gives access to inaccessible features. [1]

In 1990’s, as the use of the internet widespread around the world at the same time the number of hackers was also increasing, but public became aware of system’s security at the end of the decade.

Today, we are aware of hackers, crackers, Trojans, viruses, worms and all other hacking techniques and there are different methods available to protect our systems from such attacks. [8]

Types of Hacking:

1) Inside Jobs – Inside jobs include stealing passwords which the hackers then use or sell, performing industrial spying, causing harm or committing simple misuse. Sound policy enforcement and attentive employees who protect their passwords and PCs can prevent many of these security breeches.

2) Rogue Access Points – Unsecured wireless access points that outsiders can easily breech are known as Rogue access points (APs). Local hackers are often known to each other as rogue APs. Rogue APs are most often connected by well-meaning but ignorant employees.

3) Back Doors – It is easy for the hackers to gain access to a network by taking advantage of back doors administrative shortcuts, design errors, can easily deciphered passwords, and can use unsecured dial-ups. Moreover, hackers can most likely find weakness in the network with the help of computerized searchers.

4) Viruses and Worms – Viruses and worms are self-replicating code fragments or programs that get attach to other programs or machines. Both viruses and worms attempts to lock down networks by introducing large amounts of false traffic which is usually through e-mail.

5) Trojan Horses – Trojan horses are usually the main source of all break-ins. They are usually attached to other programs. The hacker gets control of the PC by a virus or password gobbler that is added to the system by Trojan horse when a user downloads and activates it.

6) Denial of Service – It is denoted by DoS. These attacks bring down a network without gaining internal access. It works almost the same way as the viruses and worms. DoS attacks work by overflowing the access routers with fake traffic which can either be through e-mail or Transmission Control Protocol (TCP) packets.

A type of DoS is “Distributed DoS (DDoS5)” which is synchronized DoS attacks from numerous sources. It uses multiple and varying source IP addresses and therefore it is more difficult to block.

7) Crackers, Anarchists and Kiddies – Crackers are people who take hacking as their hobby. They might also include professionals who crack passwords and build up Trojan horses or other soft wares. They either use the soft wares themselves or sell it for profit.

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Anarchists are people who enjoy breaking stuff. They usually take advantage of any target of opportunity that is available to them.

Kiddies or script kiddies are hacker wannabes. They have no real hacker skills; they just buy or download hacker’s soft wares which they then launch.

Other kinds of attackers consist of persons who feel upset, oppressed, ripped off, or unloved, dissatisfied employees, terrorists, political workers.

8) Sniffing and Spoofing – Sniffing is the act of interrupting TCP packets. This interruption can be done by simple spying or something more threatening.

Spoofing is basically sending an illegal packet with an expected acknowledgment (ACK), which a hacker can guess, predict, or attain by inquiring.

Password cracking:

Finding passwords are sometimes not that hard as it seems to be. It can be found the same way as finding a sticky note with the password written on it pasted on the monitor or might be hidden under a keyboard. Another technique that can be used is called “dumpster diving”. In this method the attacker goes through people’s garbage to find discarded documentation that may contain passwords.

Some of the more common techniques used in password cracking are as follows:


The fastest and easiest way to break into a machine is by a simple dictionary attack. A dictionary file which is a text file full of dictionary words is loaded into a cracking application. This cracking application is then run against the user accounts which are located by the application. It is easy to run a dictionary attack as majority of passwords are often simplistic.


The hybrid attack is another well-known form of password cracking. As many people mostly change their passwords by simply adding a number to the end of their current password, for example if the first month password is “jack” then the second month password will be “jack1”, third month password will be “jack2” and so on. In order to crack a password, Hybrid attack will basically just add numbers or symbols to the filename.


A brute force attack may often take a long time to work depending on the complexity of the password but it is the most comprehensive form of attack. Some brute force attacks might take almost a week depending on the complexity of the password. [5]

Why Do People Hack?

Linus Torvalds mentions that for the hacker the computer itself is entertainment. It means that the hacker programs because he finds programming essentially exciting, thrilling and cheerful.

The hacker is passionate about hacking computers because it energizes him. From the MIT of the 60’s and onward, the classic hacker started programming in the early afternoon to morning without sleep with passion and continued his efforts, totally engaged in coding. [10]

It is a common thing that the greater the achievement, the greater will be the coverage. It is actually a dark fame from a wicked act which has almost no definite target. No one is meant to suffer from an attack but the attack was actually meant to be seen.

In history, the first Internet Worm was actually a good experiment that accidentally crashed every computer it came in contact with. [3]

People think that being a hacker is lots of fun, but this fun takes lots of effort and motivation is required for such effort. As most of the successful athletes get their motivation from some physical exercises which are harder than their own physical limits. Similarly, hackers get pleasure from solving problems, enhancing their skills, and exercising their intelligence.

Hackers get bored and they don’t want to work hard at stupid repetitive work. So, they start on solving new problems as boredom and drudgery are not just unpleasant but actually evil. They might sometimes do things that may seem repetitive or boring but that is mostly a mind-clearing exercise in order to acquire a skill or have some particular kind of experience. [4]

These “bad guys” are waiting for opportunities to take advantage of other’s information for self-centered reasons. Some hackers are very educated and use their intelligence to harm others whereas some hackers steal the work of others and download “kiddie scripts” from the Internet to use for their attack. The practice of hacking these days isn’t really about talents or abilities but instead it is obsessed by motivators which have totally changed the concept of why people hack.

Some hackers want to take revenge from a particular person or all people and they start to intrude into other’s computer systems. They take out their anger by sending out Malwares to people in order to settle a score. Their intention is to either damage their victim’s system, steal their information or simply to be annoying [21]. Once there was a 20 years old guy named Omar Ramos-Lopez who was an employee of the Texas Auto Center dealership in Austin. This is a careful dealership so it fitted GPS devices in cars that can be accessed remotely and that could disable the vehicle if the customers miss payments on the cars they bought. The GPS devices can also turn on the car’s horn which would make it easier to trace the car.

So when Omar got fired from there, he used a colleague’s password to access the GPS devices which was installed on more than 100 vehicles which were sold by the dealership and caused the vehicles to stop working. Although the former dealership employee was arrested and charged with “felony breach of computer security” as because of this act, many customers missed their work or had to tow trucks.

However, Omar accessed the dealership’s system and by changing customers’ names, he ordered parts worth of $130,000 from the company that builds the GPS devices. [19]

There are other hackers who want people to know them as bad guys. They usually break into popular websites such as any visible business or government agency’s database systems or websites. After that they sit back and enjoy their achievements.

Some hackers like challenges and that is why they choose hacking in order to have fun in completing a successful hack. Hacking is a form of intellectual incentive, but this type of intruder doesn’t care who gets hurt. Their main intention is to attain a “win” by accomplishing their objectives and goals of a victorious hack.

To gain money easily is another reason of hacking. All the above reasons of hacking are destructive, but the ones looking for financial gain are the most dangerous because these hackers steal personal files and commit the crime of theft. This type of hacking is more common now a day as we rely so much upon our electronic transactions. Our information will be at higher risk as the technology will progress more and more processes will become web centric.

What ever is the reason of hacking, each reason is connected with a high level of adventure. Either it is thrill of successful revenge, attention or financial gain, but the hackers find these attractive although these might harm other people but hackers don’t care. All of the above reasons rose due to the motivating factor which compels them to hack. [21]

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Is Hacking Good or Back?

Hacking is mostly referred to as a “hobby” and most of the people think it is a bad thing to do. Hackers and crackers are usually known as the big threats for the online society and business. They are mostly put in the same category as many other groups such as virus writers. But this is because people do not have a clearer idea about hacking. The terms hacking and hackers are defined differently at many different places and that actually affected the way people think about both.

The Good side of Hacking:

Most of the people only know the bad side of hacking and no one thought that there could be a good side of hacking as well. This good side of hacking is used by individuals and organizations that conduct research, publishing their findings for the security industry, security audits, and to help new users who know very little or nothing about security. In this way, it helps to protect the online society from exploits and security risks. The people who wants to fight such acts in the future and build security tools and methods for this purpose and also the people who find security holes and help fix them is also known as hacking used in a good way. This good side of hacking is used to determine the systems and soft wares that are known to have security weaknesses, then informing the customers so that they can find new solutions and methods.

Nowadays Information Technology security companies are hiring ethical hackers so that they can help them to test their IT security strength. This kind of hacking activity is done by an agreement between the organization and the Ethical Hacker. In case there is no agreement signed between the two parties then it would be considered an illegal hacking activity in the United States and also in many other countries. This kind of hacking is known as ethical hacking. Some of these ethical hackers have usually obtained certification like Certified Ethical Hacker (CEH) or Certified Security Analyst (ECSA) from Certified Hacking Forensic Investigator (CHFI) or EC-Council which is a leader in IT Security training.

Courses offered at these institutions are Ethical Hacking, Security Fundamentals, Secure Programming, Penetration Testing, Computer Forensics and Disaster Recovery. The topics covered by these courses are mostly like the Hacking Cycles, Google Hacking, and Enumeration etc. IT professionals can also find online EC-Council courses. The aim of professional ethical hackers is to show the public today that all hackers are not criminals as it was believed in the past and media took a great part in making the negative image of hackers in the eyes of public. [14]

A trustworthy ethical hacker gains access to the IT system of the company and identifies weaknesses in its security system. In this way, the company will be able to improve the security of the system by fixing those security weaknesses. In this process of hacking, the ethical hacker successfully breaks the existing security measures of the company’s IT system. As a result of this, it will be almost impossible for the dangerous hackers to do their evil activities on the better and more enhanced IT system. The hiring of ethical hackers is mostly advantageous to many companies and it is shown by a recent study that salaries of IT security space jobs is rising even though the world is going through recession. [14]

The Bad side of Hacking:

The bad side of hacking involves the hackers that break into computer systems for criminal financial gain, for stealing accounts and Identity theft. This is the ugly side of hacking that can be shown by examples such as a police investigation was going on near the campus of Michigan State University and was at the last month’s demonstration when a hacker broke into the East Lansing police computer through a Web site. He at once stole all the confidential information which was given to the police by approximately 200 tipsters. The tipsters were actually trying to help the police to catch protestors who broke windows and burned a police car after MSU’s basketball team lost in the NCAA tournament [20].

Similarly, the UK cash-point hack and the famous City bank hack but both of them were successfully blocked before any information was stolen or any serious harm was caused.

According to Malaysian Computer Crimes Act 1997 Section (3.1):

“A person shall be guilty of an offence if (a) he causes a computer to perform any function with intent to secure access to any program or data held in any computer; (b) the access he intends to secure is unauthorized; and (c) he knows at the time when he causes the computer to perform the function that that is the case.

Similarly, according to Section (5.1) in the same Act:

“A person shall be guilty of an offence if he does any act which he knows will cause unauthorized modification of the contents of any computer.” [13]

Many misguided kids and people, who are mostly known as “website defacers “, like to spend their leisure time in finding security weaknesses in order to boost their reputation. To accomplish this task, most of the tools are easily available on the internet.

After accomplishing that, they work like graffiti artists, usually painting the website with their logo and publishing their achievements on websites like [15]

How to protect Hacking:

“If you won’t do something in your offline life, don’t do it online.”

The first step to be protected by hacking attacks is prevention. As a rule, Unknown email should not be opened and all blog comments should be deleted that look any doubtful. Also any link that looks suspicious should not be clicked. More over web browsers should be upgraded and patched to guarantee your protection from malicious websites.

Every one using the internet should pay close attention to details given over the internet. Net users should never give out passwords, usernames, or private information. Emails, phone numbers or contact information should not be published on the internet unless a response is required from anyone and anything. [17]

Fortunately, there are many other easy ways to protect computers from the hackers on internet:

Software Updates

Software companies are always introducing new products and updating them in order to remove any security violation by hackers. Their software makes a periodic check on the latest version available in the internet. Every software package needs to be updated i-e operating systems, office suites, drivers, games or any other kind of specialized software. Preferably a server should be configured to do virus updates out periodically to all client systems.

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Install anti-virus software

The most recent version of anti-virus protection software should be run on all computers. Antivirus software should be the first from all the security packages that a user should install in his PC. It has been our friend for a long time, even before the internet. In the old days, virus spread very easily from corporate networks to employee home computers as the employees simply took work home through diskettes and when they gave those diskettes to their friends, it moved to their computers. Nowadays, the Internet has provided a better way for viruses to spread themselves through the world. To navigate safely through the net, a real time antivirus software package is a must for any user in order to protect himself for being a victim of a hacker attack. [6]

Implement a Firewall

Nowadays, it is not nearly possible to be connected to the net without being checked by hackers who are continuously looking for possible breaches in everyone’s connection. For this purpose a firewall should be installed on all computers.A firewall is a barrier that is used to keep hackers and viruses away from computer networks. It becomes main stream with the Internet .It basically intercepts network traffic and allows only authorized data to pass through the network.

Don’t run unnecessary network services

Any unnecessary features should be disabled while installing a system. A feature is less likely to be updated regularly if it is installed on a system but is not used very often and it presents a big security threat. It is also recommended that only the software employees should be allowed to do their job effectively instead of a person who has no knowledge about computers.

Keep informed about network security

All the people specially employees working at organizations should be educated about viruses and forbid them from e-mail from unknown senders or opening e-mail attachments. Many books, magazines and online resources offer information about effective security tools. Also, the Web provides sufficient and very current information about security.

Develop a corporate security policy

A corporate security policy should be established in organizations that contain information about practices to secure the network. This policy should direct the company’s employees to choose unique passwords that are a combination of numbers and letters. Passwords should be changed frequently roughly after every 90 days in order to limit hacker’s ability to gain control of functioning password. The user name and password should be immediately deleted when someone leaves the company. Moreover this corporate policy should outline results for network tampering and illegal entry to the network.

Conduct a vulnerability test

Conducting a vulnerability test is actually a cost-effective way to assess the current security program. This test basically highlights drawbacks and limitations in the program, and also experts can propose suggestions for improvement. The best method for conducting this test on anyone’s system is to contact a computer consulting company and provide access to the system for a day or two. This will provide sufficient time for network evaluation and then it proceeds to discussion and planning. [7]


Hacking has a good and a bad effect. It depends on people how they use it either positively or negatively. Online security is getting better but individuals should also take their responsibility and should not contribute to the bad side of hacking. [12]

Hacking is considered both morally and ethically bad. From 1878 to the present day, hacking has changed a lot and it is becoming almost a threat to everyday life. [18]

Guns don’t kill people but instead people kill people. The people whose intension is to hack into a system will always find a way as the internet is said to be out of control. Nowadays, ‘Bugtrack’ is the famous mailing list for security problems. It is mailed daily, usually over 200 mails a day, without any cost to subscribers.

The services like ‘Bugtrack’ would be made illegal if the legislation proposed by the Council of Europe were accepted. It would be complete disaster for the whole security industry. This type of legislation might be accepted in the Middle East region as most countries over there do not have proper laws to explain cyber crime and drawbacks of current laws. This includes the identity theft or misuse of information which is obviously not enough to stop hackers from playing with all our expenses.

It will also be difficult for the IT professionals to secure their systems if hacking tools will be made out of law. If the hack would not be tried out then no one will know the protection from it. It will also decrease the chances of education in security.

Breaking into other peoples computers or using hacking tools is already illegal but making these tools illegal will also stop people from using them legitimately. [15]

Hacking is a serious crime and almost every responsible Internet user knows this fact. However, this is also true that justice may not always be on hand for its victims. Due to information theft by hackers, governments and a lot of private and public companies have lost their money. The saddest part of all is that laws don’t seem to be strong enough on cyber criminals. In some cases, due to the lack of legislation that defines and covers Internet crimes most of these hackers are not even considered lawbreakers.

There are many cases in which hackers were actually brought to justice. The media specially the film industry has taken part in presenting the view of hackers as being cool and even sexy. This act of film industry is not encouraged as it seems like Hollywood has forgotten to expose the black hats what they are in reality. Because of this, people have started taking influence from these films without realizing that it can be seriously harmful.

Some government officials think that the problem of hacking could be solved by taking away the hacker’s equipment or banning him from buying any new appliances. But it is actually bizarre to think that the problem could be prevented by taking away the gadgets because a hacker can easily hire anyone to buy him a new computer, modem or storage device and then he’ll start doing the same hacking stuff again as if nothing was happened.

Hacking is no doubt a much more serious crime than most justice officials are willing to accept. As a result, the situation is becoming worse day by day due to much leniency in laws towards hacking crimes. Because hackers already know this fact very well that even if they are caught, they can easily get away and they will continue to rob people and companies of their identities and causing their victims huge damage.

If things go on like this, then Internet users themselves will have to ensure their online security by utilizing every measure available to protect themselves and their systems from hacking attacks. [16]

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