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Hackers or Criminals

In response to the most excellent writer Nick Bilton of NY Times and his splendid though cautious article here

Please consider these points

  •  jail breaking phones was once illegal , then became legal, and now is questionable again. Rooting your Android tablet is now frowned upon. The question is how do you teach the next generation of hackers to explore hardware and software and yet respect laws in their own self interest. Exploring means pushing the boundaries of what can be done and what can not be done. Inter racial marriage was illegal too, once.
  • what damage have hackers caused to society in past 5 years  (lost revenues in Digital content) versus what benefits have they brought about ( Arab Spring catalyst)
  • Consider the past history of hackers who turned entrepreneurs because they didn’t go to jail and were mentored into diverting their energy to startups that created jobs.

No hackers, bam, no Apple, no Microsoft, no Google, and yes no Facebook because the founders would be too busy in a court of law.Probably not much NASA, DARPA or NSA given that almost everyone tests the limits of exploration in young age.

  • Consider the historic legality of protests as done by Gandhi, Martin Luther King , and the legal treatment of hacker activists recently. Civic rights in 60s and cyber rights in the 2010s. Do they have something in common?
  • Is law enforcement adequately trained to understand hacking , and what steps are being done for enhancing cyber law training and jurisprudence. I don’t think the cyber law enforcement is adequately manned with resources. When law enforcement is denied resources, it takes short cuts and questionable tactics including intimidation and making examples of people.

My father , a decorated police officer , always said that , if you are not a part of the solution, you are part of the problem.As a technical writer , I sometimes know how to solve technical problems but these laws create fear in the minds of future problem solvers.

  • Who is a hacker. Who is a criminal .Is a hacker ~= a criminal or Is a hacker == a criminal ?

Lets get some common sense back in the game before we turn more kids int rebels without a cause, or without a case.

(continued from the series)

 

How to be a Happy Hacker

I write on and off on hackers (see http://bit.ly/VWxSvP) and even some poetry on them (http://bit.ly/11RznQl) . During meetups, conferences, online discussions I run into them, I have interviewed them , and I have trained some of them (in analytics). Based on this decade long experience of observing hackers, and two decade long experience of hanging out with them- some thoughts on making you a better hacker, and a happier hacker even if you are a hacker activist or a hacker in enterprise software.

1) Everybody can be a hacker, but you need to know the basic attitude first.  Not every Python or Java coder is a hacker. Coding is not hacking. More details here- http://decisionstats.com/2012/02/12/how-to-learn-to-be-a-hacker-easily/

2) Use tools like Coursera, Udacity, Codeacdemy to learn new languages. Even if you dont have the natural gift for memorizing syntax, some of it helps. (I forget syntax quite often. I google)

3) Learn tools like Metasploit if you want to learn the lucrative and romantic art of exploits hacking (http://www.offensive-security.com/metasploit-unleashed/Main_Page). The demand for information security is going to be huge. hackers with jobs are happy hackers.

4) Develop a serious downtime hobby.

Lets face it- your body was not designed to sit in front of a computer for 8 hours. But being a hacker will mean that commitment and maybe more.

(more…)

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