Ed. note: This is a fast, ad-free, official mirror copy of the author’s original version. The links in this page will take you away from our site.
“Hackers” – People who think it’s cool to be a jerk.
Unfortunately, one of the problems with the internet is that there are some lifeless losers who believe the only way to have fun is to hassle other people. To them, the internet is one big playground over which they can roam and bully others. They tend to hang out together online, seeking mutual admiration for what lowlife they are. Of course, they think they are “cool.”
Many of you may realize that I’m not using the term “hackers” in its correct sense. (See an editorial on this.) But I’m using the term that the electronic terrorists use for themselves, so in a sense, I’m accurate. They want to think of themselves as hackers. So I’ll call them hackers, even though they don’t possess the technical expertise required for traditional hacking–and probably never will. Everybody knows that it takes no great genius to send anonymous email to somebody saying, “fuck you.” And a person doesn’t have to be a system engineer to message somebody on IRC (Internet Relay Chat) with “get a life, asshole,” and then change his nick so he can’t be found. These things are easy. Amazingly, though, the people who do these things generally believe that they are accomplishing some great technical feat. The “anonymous” email that these lowlife send usually isn’t as anonymous as they think it is. See this link, and the case study that follows at the end of it, to see how easily “hackers” are tracked. The link also shows how conceited and how stupid these “hackers” are in general.
The type of “hacker” I’m talking about typically spends all or most of his free time on the net in search of people to screw with. He tries to justify his actions by saying that “sometimes” it’s for revenge–somebody has screwed with him, and he needs to get even. But this explanation falls apart when such hackers stupidly admit, when asked, that they also hassle people who have never caused them a bit of trouble.
So here we have a person who considers it a great injustice when somebody is rude to him. But he freely practices the same thing–and more–toward other people. Do such people actually believe they are right and the rest of the world is wrong? Do they actually believe they can do anything _and it’s okay, but others are bound by stricter moral standards? There is a word for this: _hypocrisy.
The primary playground of these pseudo-hackers appears to be IRC. It’s easy to hassle people on IRC. There are many people there. But what passes for “hacking” on IRC is really the electronic equivalent of throwing rocks at people. That’s all. There is no real hacking involved at all. Just hassling people.
One of the instructive things about hackers like these are that they become very offended if you even discuss what they do. To them, you are the one wrong, because you talk about their actions and ask questions they would rather not answer. (They will answer your questions at first, but when they realize their answers are ridiculous and filled with double standards, they accuse you of interfering with their enjoyment of the net–this from the same people who get their “enjoyment” by maliciously interfering with others’ enjoyment!)
Equally stupid is another rationale these morons use. They say that if the victim had had better security, he wouldn’t have been attacked. Has vandalism ever been justified by the victim not nailing down or locking up his property tightly enough? I don’t think so. This mentality is common among the jerk-hackers. Blame the victim, although the hacker is the one who chose to harass or destroy, set out to do it, and did exactly what he chose to do. If this justification works, it’s only by concluding that hackers have no control over their minds or muscles; they are lifeless automons. Well, I’m not buying it. It’s like blaming the woman for getting raped.
The double standards are clear. But these hackers go further, and try to put down others for their normal, peaceful enjoyment of the internet. It might surprise many people to learn that these hackers consider you a “loser” or a “lamer” if you use the internet for it’s intended purposes, are courteous to people, and don’t try to destroy what others build. By contrast, they consider themselves “elite.” By that, they mean that they are “cool” or somehow more intelligent or resourceful in that they are able to do something as simple as type “fuck you” to somebody. It doesn’t make sense, but there it is.
For all the egos these people have, they are amazingly incompetent. Look at this usenet post:
Subject: Stupid Question ! From: Ming Pong Liu <email@example.com> Date: 1997/01/05 Newsgroups: alt.irc Can any1 talk me how to go to #hacker Channal of irc ! Please ! Thanx Very Much 4 Ur Help !` Ming
Hmmmm… a hacker in search of friends? And he doesn’t even know how to join a channel on IRC?
These hackers even have their own type of language that they type in. They are “elite.” Everybody else is “lame.” But they are not just cool dudes, they are “c00L d00dz.” The substitution of digits for letters and the intentional mixing of case appears to be some kind of identification badge. (Can I be a c00L d00d, too? I d0N’t kNoW iF i hAvE the aBiLitY!) It appears to be similar to gang slang or secret handshakes.
How does one become a hacker? How is this level of accomplishment reached? Suppose you wanted to be a hacker on IRC. What would you do? It’s simple! Just post a Usenet article asking people to tell you how to do it! As this person did:
Subject: HACKING IRC From: firstname.lastname@example.org Date: 1996/09/09 Newsgroups: alt.irc Hi can tell me ( if any ) how to hack irc? like being anonymous 100%, reading other private message, using the same nick.. etcetc.. Thanks for any help p.s. : please visit #noriko , <http://www.cybercity.hko.net/hongkong/image/noriko> iMAGE
“iMAGE” certainly has dedication to his craft, doesn’t he? I bet he will go far and become a world famous hacker.
Now let’s take a look at a guy who likes to do “nice things” on IRC.
Subject: IRC - Anyone have KEWL addons to IRC ? From: "AegisGuy" <email@example.com> Date: 1997/01/05 Newsgroups: alt.hackers.malicious Dear Fellow Hacker, I need some addons to IRC that will let me MASS-kick, MASS-ban, flood and do all that nice stuff!!! I just got Acid!IRC, but it aint that kewl, cause I want a whole lot of kewl options... Do you have any idea where I can obtain a file like this on the web?? If so, gimme an e-mail, please... Thanks Thug4Life firstname.lastname@example.org`
“Thug4Life” just can’t do his “nice stuff” yet, because he doesn’t have any “kewl” options. You just gotta love the guy! How do you do “kewl” things? Download a file…. that’s genius!
By now, some might be wondering what the “real” hackers think of hacking IRC. Here’s an example:
Subject: Re: hacking mirc advice needed From: "Some one!" <email@example.com> Date: 1997/01/14 Message-Id: <32DC574D.7B19@geocities.com> Newsgroups: alt.2600,alt.games,alt.2600.cardz,alt.crackckers firstname.lastname@example.org wrote: > > i want to learn how to hack ops on mirc help me please befor i kill > myselfe email me > -------------------==== Posted via Deja News ====----------------------- > http://www.dejanews.com/ Search, Read, Post to Usenet Oh well, Kill your self then.. Because you CAN NOT hack irc... What people call hacking IRC is flooding, and gain ops by having a damned op op you,then deoping every one else.. I'am sorry, but people that "HACK" irc are fucking lamers, and are completly stupid.. -Cisco Kid head of -NiK- http://www.geocities.com/CapeCanaveral/6678/
Yes, you’ll see this again and again in the Usenet newsgroups. Some wanna-be comes in, thinking he’s c00L or “elite”, and makes a fool of himself. Real hackers tell him that he’s a lamer. Here is one that goes into more detail on why today’s cool jerks are not what they think they are. It was in response to a question as to the difference between a “hacker” and a “cracker.”
From: "Lord Phoenix" <email@example.com> Newsgroups: alt.2600.hackerz Subject: Re: completely simple!!!!! Date: 22 Mar 1997 00:09:06 GMT Organization: CyberGate, Inc. Cracker The definition of a cracker is one who attempts to break into a system via cracking/guessing user passwords. Most of the crackers are young teenage punks who are very malicious and seek to get their kicks from destroying or alternating data on a system. The media often times mistakes the cracker for the hacker. Also note that a cracker's level of education/intelligence on the system and its inner workings etc. is very low. Hacker The hacker on the other hand is an individual who yearns for knowledge. The hackers are very knowledgeable individuals. They often times know several programming languages, work extensively with the inwards and outwards of UNIX, have a firm understanding of all the TCP/IP implementations and protocols. They keep abreast on all the security related issues involving computers. Breaking into a system for a hacker is a thrill, it is a challenge that they take on. The hacker takes much delight in exploring the system from the outside/inside searching vigorously for misconfigurations, bugs, and holes in the operating system that would allow them to break into a machine. Once in the system the challenge has been completed and they have succeeded in breaking in. It is against hacker ethics to alter any data aside from the logs that are needed to clean their tracks. They have no need or desire to destroy data as the malicious crackers. They are there to explore the system and learn more. The hacker has a constant yearning and thirst for knowledge that increases in intensity as their journey progresses. Lord Phoenix Lord.Phoenix@iname.com
Here’s one that really takes the cake. This guy innocently asks for advice, and ends up revealing more about himself than he realizes:
Subject: floods on mirc From: firstname.lastname@example.org Date: 1997/01/13 Newsgroups: alt.2600.cardz,alt.crackckers,alt.cracks how do i flood some one on mirc also what is a flood how dose it werk email me
So, he would like to flood someone. KewL. But first he would like to know what flooding is! Compare the following:
From: "Marcel Carrier" <email@example.com> Newsgroups: alt.2600.hackerz Subject: I need to know how to send computer virouses Date: 10 Mar 1997 21:03:29 GMT Hello my name is Marcel and I need to know how to send computer viruses through E-mail and chat lines. Would some one please tell me how? E-mail- firstname.lastname@example.org Thanks I would apprechiate your info.
Gee. I would tell him, but I’m a lamer, not an elite c00L d00d.
You may have heard of the “hacker riot” at AOL on February 14. Rather than hacking, it was just a group of losers (mostly teenagers, it seems) feeding off adulation for one another and general harrassment of users who where there to use the service normally. Sure, they call themselves hackers. But they are not real hackers. They are just jerks. See AOL “riot” falls short on the C-Net news service for a report of the so-called hacker riot.
I’ve referred to the new-age hackers as “lifeless losers.” Those people disagree with me, of course. They think their lives are rich and full. I’ll give an example of some c00L d00d who claimed he was somehow better than me, and told me that I needed to get a life. It happened this way. I was on IRC, minding my own business, chatting with people who wanted to chat with me. Suddenly, I was invited to a certain channel. I had my software set up to auto-join channels I was invited to. So next thing I know, I was in a new channel. I said hi to everybody, then I was kicked from the channel. Then I was invited again. And kicked again. The different people in that channel got a thrill in taking turns doing this. I politely asked them to stop it. They didn’t. After a few minutes, seeing that this was going to continue, I turned off auto-invite. Next, I start getting private messages from them, filled with obscenities. So I responded in kind, telling them what was on my mind.
After a while, with the “ignore” function, I managed to get things under control. One of the “hackers” told me that he didn’t appreciate my language, especially the language to his girlfriend. (He made no comment on his girlfriend’s language to me.) He said I had been rude to her–but made no mention of how she was in on the fun that started it all. After some inquiries from me, he admitted that he had never met this girl, but he’s in love with her, and he defends her from everybody who would mess with her. (He ignored that I never had heard of her or chatted with her until she and the others started screwing with me.) He asked me some questions about programming, saying I was a lamer and loser for not knowing the answers. When I answered his questions, correctly, he said, “so what–that doesn’t mean anything.” (That’s another trait of the “hackers.” What they think is significant is suddenly nothing at all when you show them up. They cannot make up their minds.)
Does this sound like a person with a life? The gallant white knight riding to the defense of his slut girlfriend whom he has never met and probably will never meet?
I managed after a while to chat with the “girlfriend” some. She’s in love with the jerk who came to her defense. She thinks he is cool. She admires his technical knowledge. She thinks what he does is exciting, daring, and romantic. She also tried to throw some religion at me, but when I quoted the Bible at her, she didn’t want to talk about religion any more. (See the double standard?)
Why did all of this happen? They didn’t like one of the channels I was in. So they decided to teach me a lesson. They even got some friends to try to send me some trojan files that would damage the data and programs on my computer. Oh, and they said it was my fault that I kept getting invited to their channel and kicked out. You see, I had auto-invite on, so that means I was to blame for what they did. That they purposely invited and kicked me repeatedly is meaningless in determining who was at fault for what they were doing. This is like blaming the victim of a mugging because he dared to leave his house!
A hacker once asked me if I hacked on IRC. I said no, I have a life. He asked me how old I was, and when I told him I was 43, he said that at that age, I couldn’t possibly have a life. What does this kind of stupid, narrow-minded thinking indicate about such a person’s intelligence or life experience? I think it indicates the nonexistence of both.
From time to time, I get on IRC and create a channel whose title indicates my distaste for hacker-jerks. Sometimes hackers see the channel and join. One hacker decided he didn’t like my having the same right he had (he had created his own pro-hacker channel), so he decided I needed to be taught a lesson, and he proceeded to flood me off the server. Nothing happened to me, but he did manage to flood himself off three times. After that, he left me alone.
I’ll say it again. These people are lifeless losers who have egos all out of proportion to their importance to the world. Their technical competence is minimal (if it exists at all), their love lives consist solely of online chatting, and they offer hypocritical justifications for their self-imposed mission of terrorizing people who are minding their own business and using the internet as it was intended. The one thing they can do a lot is brag and admire each other for the jerks they are, while they stupidy demonstrate their lack of decency, morals, and intelligence.
I realize that these examples are subject to the criticism that they are isolated and extreme, and do not accurately represent the general “hacker” personality. But keep in mind I’m not talking about the traditional hacker. I’m talking about those who have set themselves a misson of destroying what others have created or disrupting others who simply want to enjoy the internet.
So this is what “hacking” has come to. A hacker used to be somebody who explored and learned things. Today, sadly, “hackers” are people who download files (by clicking a mouse pointer on a file name), set them up (by double clicking a mouse pointer on a file name), and run them (by double clicking a mouse pointer on an icon.) They like to think they are superior and more intelligent than everybody else. In fact, they are incredibly stupid people with incredibly large egos. They like to think they have a better life than everybody else, when in fact they have a pitiful life, if any life at all.
Many hackers (the true, traditional kind of hacker) have written to me and expressed their agreement. I appreciate that feedback. But the new, punk type of “screw people for the hell of it” hackers don’t have much good to say about my views. Some of them have told me that they are really “creators,” and the world should be grateful for their existence. Sadly, these people somehow don’t see the difference between creating something and destroying something for the heck of it. Creating something takes work, imagination, and skill. Destroying something just takes a hammer. I think this is self-evident to anybody. Therefore, I completely reject the new hackers’ notion that they are God’s gift to mankind because they try their best to make the world miserable. I have no use for them, and based on the feedback I’m getting, many decent people are fed up with their antics.
From what I’ve seen of the hacker punks, they have no skills at all–whether it be social, literary, or technical. Let’s assume, for the moment, however, that destroying does take the great skill that the illiterate, uneducated punks claim it takes. Why, then, do they want to destroy, rather than build and create? Why do they brag about a skill that is used only to terrorize people and make life harder for everybody else. If that is a skill at all, what use is that skill? Why would the world appreciate a skill that is demonstrated only with anitsocial behavior? I wish the “hackers” would answer that question.
Asking me for more info
I didn’t expect it, but a surprising number of visitors to this site have asked me for more information on hackers and hacking. There’s nothing wrong with asking. Maybe I’ll even know the answer. I’ll at least try to reply. Let me make it clear that I am not an expert on hacking. I’ve had some experience with hackers. They’ve tried to send me trojan files that would damage my computer, for example. And I’ve been harrassed in IRC plenty of times simply because I was there and somebody wanted a random thrill. But I haven’t done any academic studies on hackers–either the traditional true hacker, or on the modern-day stupid jerk variety. Here I’m only writing what I do know. Some people have also asked me the how-to’s of certain hacking techniques. Well, I am a programmer, I do know a bit about computers, and I know how to screw them up. Programmers learn these things out of necessity. So when I’m on IRC and somebody tries to send me a so-called erotic picture in a 500-byte file called NUDE.COM, or somebody tries to send me a “cool puzzle program” that is 300-bytes big, I know what’s going on.
The two differences between me and the modern malicious “hackers” is that (1) I know a hell of a lot more than they do about computers, and (2) I don’t use my knowledge to hurt innocent people. Yet, I’m considered a “lamer” by those who know next to nothing about how a computer works, simply because I choose to be a decent person rather than use my knowledge to commit cheap, anonymous electronic vandalism.
If you are looking to me for advice on “how to hack,” don’t expect much. Look elsewhere, and when you find it, and download whatever program you are looking for, you can be proud that you are a genius because you know how to double click your mouse on a program’s icon.
I also want to make it clear that I do not condone any hacking–traditional or the jerk kind–that invades a person’s privacy or tresspasses on a person’s property when that person is not using his computer to do anything wrong. If you get caught trying to snoop into forbidden places, you know the rules of the game, and you should take what’s coming to you when you get caught. Recently, a hacker who screwed around with AOL was convicted. And what happens when you monkey around with the president’s email address? Wouldn’t that be KewL? Yeah. A KewL way to get the secret service on your ass. See the article from Time Magazine . And take a look at the resources being put onto catching whoever hacked the NCAA site .
I’ll answer a lot of questions that people have of me, provided I have time and as long as it’s not expected that I’m going to give definitive answers. Again, I emphasize, I’m not an expert on hackers. But I’m not going to help somebody in their quest to cause havoc on innocent internet users.
Am I making a big deal out of nothing?
The Nymserver used to be a free service that was open to anybody in the world–now it’s not free, because had to be severely curtailed because of abuse. Or see how another service had to shut down because of abuse. Where is the glamour in destroying something just to be destroying something? Where is the technical accomplishment? When somebody works hard to provide something to people, and some jerks decide to screw it up….. well, am I making too big a deal out of it? I don’t think so. But you decide for yourself whether the malicious jerks who cause such problems are “cool.” I think they are assholes.
Feedback from “hackers”
When I started this part of my my website, I didn’t know that the feedback would be so quick. You can see some of the feedback here. It’s a real eye-opener, and says much about the type of people these are.
Update July 17, 1999 - What is it with the people who send me email telling me that I’m totally wrong, that hackers are doing the world a lot of good, that they don’t screw with people, and then threaten me if I don’t take down my webpage? This is good for the world? It sounds like losers and would-be-dictators to me.
This page started as a simple essay where I give my opinion and express my disgust at a certain type of people. More and more, though, I’m being asked for more information and background. To take care of those requests, here are some other links you can follow if you are interested in this subject. I don’t necessarily endorse any of them or condem any of them. I’m just giving some interesting sites that I’ve run across which you can view if you want more information. Be aware that I’m finding these links by ordinary web searching, like you and anybody else can do. That’s all.
- Who Are The Hackers?
- Why Criminal Hackers Must Not Be Rewarded
- Hacker open letter
- The Hacker Jargon File (or Dictionary)
- Hackers’ Dark Side Gets Even Darker
- Who’s Afraid Of The Big, Bad Hacker?
- Teen hackers tracked down via stolen credit card numbers
- Hacker Trackers (A cop’s view of hackers)
The following articles are from the New York Times. If you haven’t registered with the NY Times, you will have to do so (it’s free) to view the articles.
- Computer Savvy, With an Attitude: Young Working-Class Hackers Accused of High-Tech Crime
- Field of Wired Dreams: If You Build It, They Will Camp
- Reprogramming a Convicted Hacker: To His On-Line Friends, Phiber Optik Is a Virtual Hero
You can subscribe to an email discussion list that I have created, by sending a blank email message to punk-hackers- email@example.com.
New - If you still want to be one of the sooper doods like you see in the movie, here are step-by-step instructions on how to become so.
My E-Mail Address: firstname.lastname@example.org