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Hackers Essay, Research Paper

The popular definition of a hacker has a negative connotation in today’s society, but computer

hackers aren’t criminals by their definition of the word. Their definition deals with how someone

approaches an activity in life, not just when dealing with computers. Hackers feel a certain depth

of commitment and an enhanced level of excitement at hacking a system. Hacking basically

means learning all there is to know about a system, becoming immersed in the system to the

point of distraction, and being able to fix the system if it breaks.

Hackers basically want to know how a system they find interesting works. Most are not

interested in making money or seeking revenge, although certain hackers do cross that line to

become what the hacker community calls crackers. Computer hackers become outraged when

they are compared with these vandals and criminals the popular media now calls hackers

(instead of crackers). For the sake of this paper I am going to be focusing on crackers, as that

was the group that I studied, and I will also be referring to them as hackers. Hopefully this paper

will give you a little more insight on what the hacker/cracker community is all about.

Most of the hackers (I would estimate over 90%) on the Internet are not malicious. Most of the

time when a hacker gains access to a system they will just leave a little sign that they were there

and leave things pretty much the same as before they were there. This can be in the form of a

web page, a small file saying they were there, or maybe even some type of executable file (such

as one that pops up everytime a person logs on to a system that displays some message the

hacker wrote). To this group, hacking is kind of like a sport, where each hack is sort of like a

trophy. They try to gain access to the biggest or the most systems just like a trophy game

hunter. The rest of the hackers tend to be malicious and hack in order to gain access to data

they normally wouldn’t have, destroy data, and to try and bring down a system or a network.

These are the hackers that you usually read or hear about in the news.

Probably the most sacred thing to a hacker is his or her anonymity. A person can remain

unknown on the Internet with hardly any effort at all, so this makes the perfect home for hackers.

Many hackers to come up with their own nicknames so that they have some way to lay claim to

their exploits. The worst thing that could happen to a hacker is for the real world identity to be

found out. This would be comparable to a person on the run from the law being found out by the


The hacker community primarily exists over the Internet because the Internet is the most

convenient way for them to gather and exchange information. One of the largest sources of

hacking information is Usenet. The largest and most extensive newsgroup on hacking would

have to be alt.2600.hackers. This group gets hundreds of posts daily and gets posts about

every aspect of hacking. This newsgroup is also where many hackers go to brag about their

hacks and other accomplishments. If a hacker needed to find out the latest utility that was

available for finding out other users passwords, they could read the postings in this group and

probably find it.

Usenet is not the only way to get the latest hacking hints and tricks. The most convenient would

probably be the World Wide Web. One of the most extensive web sites around showing most of

the latest hacking exploits around for every major operating system and network packages is at

www.technotronic.com. This site was designed for system administrators and security

programmers so that they could be made aware of what methods hackers were using. This site

gives the fix on how to prevent the hacks. The site not only has all of the patches to the hacks,

but it also has the actual code for the actual hacks themselves. Since not every system

administrator has the time to keep their system completely up to date, they are leaving the door

wide open to hackers. All a hacker would have to do is simply get one of the hacks off of this

site and then test it out on different systems until they find one that isn’t protected.

The are hundreds and hundreds of web sites devoted to hacking. A person could go to any

popular search engine, type in hacking and come up with a list of invaluable hacking web sites.

As a matter of fact there are even search engines that are strictly devoted to hacking such as

http://astalavista.box.sk and http://www.kaboo.123hostme.com/hackme/mattindex.HTM. There is

also a site devoted to tracking and showing off many hacker exploits. The site is

www.antionline.com and they specialize in capturing what system was hacked, by whom, and

they also show you the actual hack itself.

Another way that hackers use the Internet to communicate with each other is through chat

rooms using Internet Relay Chat (IRC). The are hundreds of chat rooms devoted to hacking on

the three main IRC networks (Dalnet, Efnet, and Undernet) and countless others on the smaller

chat networks. In these chat rooms hackers can simply ask someone how to do something and

get almost instant feedback, instead of having to search the web or reading through


Hackers tend to work alone but sometimes they team up to form a group. Usually the groups say

that they are fighting a worthy cause and sometimes they do it just to spite another group. A few

groups stand out as elite, as they have done some of the biggest hacks around. Hacking for

girliez (H4gls) is most known for their hack of Yahoo.com, but has also hacked other sites

including: greenpeace.org, slashdot.org, rootshell.com, www.hq.nasa.gov, and nytimes.com. A

few other famous hacking groups are the Masters of Download (M0D) and the Lordz of

Download (L0D).

Many of these hacking groups rally around the fight to free Kevin Mitnick. Kevin Mitnick was a

solo hacker who was able to hack into what was believed to some of the most secure sites out

there. He was even able to hack his way into Motorola’s security expert’s personal computer

and leave him a little “I was here” message. He was eventually caught and put in jail where he is

now in pretrial detention without bail, a bail hearing, and without having been convicted for over

four years. The government has finally set a sentencing hearing date for this summer.

Meanwhile hackers around the world tirelessly fight for his freedom, looking up to Kevin as the

hacking pioneer. Many hackers put the following banner on all over their webpages, and it is

linked to the Kevin Mitnick web page.

Some hackers specialize in creating computer viruses that are designed to wreak havoc on the

end users’ computer, rather than the servers. These viruses can be distributed in many ways.

Most commonly they are attached to an email, or in a downloadable file that is available on the

Internet. These viruses usually try to erase system files on a computer and render it useless.

One of the latest viruses to be in the news was the Melissa Virus. This virus was developed to

run on the end users’ computer, but it was designed to crash the email servers by flooding them

with more emails then they could handle.

Other hackers specialize in “cracking” commercial software packages and making them freely

available on the Internet as “warez”. I would estimate that at least 80% of all commercial

software packages have been cracked and can be downloaded for free. Software companies

are fighting a never ending battle to stop the free distribution of their software so the website

they are posted to are usually shut down pretty fast. One of the most popular warez site on the

web is www.liquidwarez.com and they provide links to these temporary sites. These “warez” are

also distributed via IRC. The names of the chat rooms are always changing, but they are easy to

find just by looking for rooms with the string “warez” in it.

Hackers definitely do form an online community. Everyone, from the largest computer

companies, down to the novice computer user knows their presence. All computer users

generally fear hackers even though most of them are not out to do any harm. But the ones that

do end up being malicious, usually do enough damage do strike fear into everybody’s mind.

There are a few simple rules one can follow to protect yourself from some of the hacker’s

devious plot. The biggest thing the end user can do is to always have a virus program running

and to keep it up to date. Another big thing is to never download anything from an untrusted

source, or to open an email attachment from an untrusted sender. There is no 100% way to

safeguard yourself from hackers because they are always new hacks coming out.

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