Thursday, February 18, 2010

Hacking is Lame (CS 404)

After reading The Cuckoo's Egg, I gained some insights into what hacking is like, and I've come to a conclusion: hacking is lame. Why is it lame, you ask? Because it doesn't take a genius and superior technology, just a few facts and dull persistence. For instance, some users choose simple passwords, like "12345," "password," or their username. If a hacker can find a list of users, he could just go through that list and enter a common password until he gets in. It's not much different than someone walking down a street to see who left their homes unlocked. Where's the glory in that?

Unless someone is hacking to gain something of value, like money or company secrets, hacking doesn't even provide a meaningful reward. For example, some of my roommates and their friends got into a "Facebook War" not long ago. Dude A would leave a computer while still logged on to Facebook, so dude B would edit A's Facebook account, like changing their picture to something lame, give a lame status update, and join groups that dude A would never join. Once dude A sees that his Facebook account was hacked, he would find the opportunity to take the same advantage of dude B. And what's to gain from this? To be able to say, "Ha ha, I made you like gay!" Oh, yeah, real mature.

But what if a hacker tries to do something worse, like steal money from my bank account or give my computer a virus? While it's problems like these that give serious concerns about hackers, password protection isn't difficult. As long as you don't choose a password that's a word in the dictionary, don't write down the password, and don't pick something simple, the chances of being hacked are greatly diminished. There are, however, other ways for hackers to get into things, and this often comes from bugs in a program. Sadly, the current model of software programming isn't perfect, and bugs are inevitable. Bugs can be fixed though, preventing the same problem from happening again.

Hackers will probably disagree with me, but I find no glory in taking advantage of people. It's just lame.

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