Evolution of H4ck3r5

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This is an assignment I did for a graduation project, There are many reasons I chose to research hackers but who cares about that. Looking at this now after doing more writing/research projects on my own this is hideous to look at and I'm amazed that I passed but, but it is one of my longest essays and it did teach me how to go through the research project and I feel like if I did do this project again, I'd probably keep some of the things, but I also feel I'd be able to change it to be better.

I apologize for the formatting, I'm still learning how to use booksie

Submitted: August 14, 2017

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Submitted: August 14, 2017

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Grad Project 12

10-28-16

 

“Evolution of H4ck3r5”

 

 

Imagine a man. Think of the man being behind a desk, typing an important document on a computer. Imagine that the man is part of an important governmental faction. Now picture suddenly all his words start deleting themselves, all his files are erased from his hard drive, thousands of pop-up adds just start bombarding his screen, within minutes all of his files are destroyed and all that is left of the important document he was writing is a bunch of words he never typed which read "this computer has been hacked by H4ck3r" scary thought, right? The man might have been working in the treasury department distributing funds around the states, or imagine he worked in the Department of Defense attempting to fight against the exact thing that attacked his computer. Hackers.

There are many types of ‘hackers’ spanning from individual ‘hat types’ hackers to large groups working for different causes such as nation/states or hacktivist causes. First, what is a ‘hacker’, There are many definitions for this. “Types of Hackers” by SecPoint, states that the common usage of a hacker is a person who breaks into computers and usually does no harm (“Types of Hackers”). In his book “Hackers”, Steven Levy describes them as adventurous, visionary, risk-taking artists who see the computer as a revolutionary tool (Levy). One of the oldest definitions of hacker is from one of the oldest hacker groups the TMRC (Tech Model Railroad Club) mentioned in the book “Innovators” by Walter Issacson who said “We at TMRC use the term ‘Hacker’ only in its original meaning, someone who applies ingenuity to create a clever result, called a ‘hack’ the club proclaimed…”(Issacson). With that discussed and fresh in mind, it should be known that there are many types of hackers which can be focused on the technological aspect or the broader TMRC definition of hacker. Starting with ‘white hats’, which includes a Mr. Jonathan Zeolla, founder of Steel City InfoSec, in Pittsburgh PA. What Hat hackers are not the type normally heard about in the news. According to Zeolla, they are the ones working with computer companies or other businesses in order to improve the security of their systems to prevent black hats from infiltrating them and causing all the dastardly problems hackers are normally known for (Zeolla). Black hats are the ones who according to Levy and Zeolla are the ones who neglect the law and cause the trouble white hats work toward preventing (Levy). Something interesting learned from “The Hackers Manifesto”, Authored by The Mentor (A.K.A.  Loyd Blankenship), is that black hat type hackers, normally hack for a multitude of reasons not always concerning financial gain like expected (Hacker Manifesto). The Hackers manifesto is also one of the first documents written by a hacker about what it means to be a hacker and how hackers became who they are today. Each of these different types, as well as the others, were developed along the evolution of the hackers throughout their history.

The history of hacking is covered by the events and the people who started as well as assisted in the evolution of the hacker lifestyle since the 1980’s. Before 1980 only a small group of computer enthusiasts could be hackers since computers were hard to come by, but as the years moved by, hackers became more and more prominent (Levy). Nowadays there are many more hackers due to the abundance of technology around the world opening up interest in the tech field and pulling more people into the realm of hacking (Hanging out with the script kiddies).  History has many famous hackers and hacker groups such from the TRMC who were mentioned earlier for not only pioneering computer hacking with just a PDP-1 computer and finding ways to use the computer to design low-resolution games (Levy). There was also Rene Carmellie who was a punch card computer expert during the holocaust and hacked a German census punch machine to allow thousands of Jewish people the chance to escape to safer locations and avoid execution. The first documented instance of a ‘hack’ would be in 1903 when Guglielmo Marconi’s telegraph was hijacked by John Nevil Maskelyne, a magician, in order for John to demonstrate the insecurity of Marconi’s system much to the inventors dismay(Davis). A magician literally hacked the inventor's machine; why would a magician know how to do that? The reason for that as well as why many other questionable hacker actions are in their minds. The answer is hidden in their psychology.

The psychological profile of a hacker is just like that of other people, it’s just as complex built out of multiple parts. Such as the secrets like why start, why to continue, with interesting common insights into their backgrounds and lifestyles of some modern, ‘hackers’. The Hacker Manifesto, written by The Mentor, a.k.a Loyd Blankenship (appendix 1), is a document that articulates what created hackers back when hacking was new and unknown. The manifesto is a guideline of how hackers think and why they are who they are. The manifesto states that many hackers were bored in their school life, being either ahead of their peers or just plain bored with the social drama and pressure that comes from interactions with people stated in Loyd words as “Mine is a world that begins with school... I'm smarter than most of the other kids, this crap they teach us bores me...” When they discovered a computer, it was a life-changing event for them. Where before there was a world boring them social interactions and people that wouldn’t work with them without manipulation the computer was a like a friend, it did what they wanted it to and if it didn’t it was because they told it the wrong thing (Levy). Soon after finding the computer they discovered hacking and the challenge of hacking was addicting to some, almost as much as the enticing curiosity and admiration of peers and the feeling of godhood that comes from a successful hack can be some of many reasons hackers keep spawning up and why they continue for as long as they can. (“Hacker Manifesto”, Levy). Many of today’s hackers still start this way, with a bored unchallenged outlook on life and a computer of limitless potential. That is why there is such a large number of young men caught using tools they learned for hacking, while young they see it as a game with knowledge and sense of pride as a reward (Hanging out with script kiddies). But that is just ‘many’ not all hackers hack with a computer, but all hackers have the do-it-yourself mindset that allows them to find a solution to any problem no matter how challenging or time-consuming (Steinmetz). 

The tools and skills that hackers use have also come a long way from the lucky radio interceptions John Maskelyne used. They have been designed and evolving along with the culture that requires them. Hacking isn’t just sitting behind a computer typing away at immense speeds to take down a site or other person's device. Hacking has many skills and tools associated with it many of them are knowledge based such as intimate understanding of operating systems and programming aspects in order to make anything they do work they must know how to work with and manipulate and operating system to their will using programming languages they may adapt or combine together to achieve a positive response (Sanchez; “Script Kiddies”). With those skills you can be considered an amateur, above that is the ability to learn how to manipulate the human error inside most company systems through social engineering. Which has multiple parts explained in the diagram in (Appendix 2) showing the multiple parts which can be demonstrated in the next sentences in some form (Social engineering circle)Which according to the article “Types of Hackers” by Sec Point is the process of manipulating human person to get what the desired effect, meaning that once the human component of a company like Microsoft can be tricked into believing the hacker is a CEO or some other position then they can pretty much get any information they need just by asking(“Types of hackers”). Once in that far with the ability to get the information of company workers they can start doing the real damage. While there they now can remotely explore the entire server and use reverse engineering, the reproduction of another manufacturer's product following detailed examination of its construction or composition, in order to figure out the finer details of that system for their maniacal purposes (Mitnick, Kevin. “Ghost in the wires”). Once that is done they have many options of how to cause even more damage but maybe they’ll just retreat and launch a DDOS ,distributed denial of service, attack to cover his tracks and cause a little chaos, taking down multiple servers or company websites just for the heck of it (Steinmetz). With that covering their tail they can make it away with some information or have caused the wanted disruption to the targeted companies systems. All that would take a hacker approximately a few days to accomplish, many opportunities to be caught, but the average time between a hacker breaching a network and the owner noticing an intrusion is approximately two-hundred-five days exponentially more time than a proficient hacker needs in order to do what they need to and get away with it (Cost of Immaturity). These along with thousands of other tools and skills allow similar situations to happen with more or less disaster and few people able to stop their attacks without data loss. While on the flip side according to Mr. Jonathan Zeolla, the white hat hackers uses all the same skills, tools, and methods to counteract those attempting the attacks. In essence, Jon and those he work with are the good white hats protecting the data of important companies, while the attackers are the black hats in the never ending war between ethical and unethical.

Unlike what the misconceptions from the news or general discussion around the water cooler at work, hacking can be helpful in some ways. Those cause the fear that is talked about in “Hacking Has Become Every American’s Worst nightmare” (appendix 4) which shows how hacking has become a major fear for many Americans. Whether it be by improving the security of technology, or protecting the normal man’s privacy there are ways that hacking is able to be good. Anonymous according to Edward Snowden is one group of hackers known as a loosely knit collection of activists all over the globe, it’s not meant to be as scary as it sounds with its good intentions. Anonymous works on hacking ISIS controlled twitter accounts to working on slowing recruitment along with attempting to inspire others to work with anonymous on many of their other supported causes (Maney). Hackers are also the main source of solutions to privacy issues on the internet, so much so that the article “Wanna Fight ISIS? Weaponize Your Laptop; Hacking might be the best way to protect America” by Kevin Maney boldly states that “At this point, if a smart oppressor wanted to control us, it would come for our laptops, not our guns. Kevin goes as far to state that the best way to stop a bad guy with a laptop is a good guy with a laptop (Maney; Steinmetz).”  Hackers also ensure the highest quality of devices and technology testing its limits to ensure non-false advertisements, related to the earlier examples of Maskelyne hacked Marconi’s communication telegraph to show that it wasn’t as powerful as Marconi stated allowing consumers to know before buying, or Carmellie hacking his own machines in order to save the lives of thousands of Jewish civilians (Davis). Hacking can be a tool for good as seen, but there is also a dark side to it as well. The image Impact vs. Creativity (appendix 3) also shows that even though some of the hacking events are dangerous and bad many if not most of them are quite innovated leading to advancements in the tech field to keep up with hackers either prevent the bad hacks or for bad hacks to breach the security the white hats implement.

Hacking can also be used for malicious purposes as seen in mainstream media all over the world show the darker side for views and ratings. Examples of the dark side are how the TMRC stole the Altair Basic programming language from Bill Gates to individually distribute it themselves, even though their distribution was non-for-profit, showing that not even the rich are safe from an unethical hacker (Issacson). No one is especially safe from a bad hacker due to the sheer number of them; there are an astronomical number of groups out there like ‘Poodle Corp’, ‘Lulzsec’, the 414’s, and the disbanded ‘Cult of the dead Cow’ waiting out there surrounded in controversy (Steinmetz; “Hacking and Hackers”). Since these kinds of hackers are the ones to get the most screen time this is the way that society views them like with the Morris Worm, written by Robert T. Morris, which caused ten million dollars in damages by shutting down six-thousand computers including some controlled by the U.S. Military research centers by running only 99 lines of code from MIT computers (Davis). Another fact to reinstate from an earlier question is that in some hacking instances it took the attacked system owner two hundred and five days to notice the intrusion with a lot of chaos caused between the attack and the notice. With all this hacking information it is no wonder that with how large the hobby has become it is no wonder that it has grown into an underground culture far from its roots as a hobby for those privileged enough to even work with a computer.

The hobby of hacking has expanded and grown into its own little diverse world with specialized aspects. The culture is all about finding a system and learning everything there is about the network until a hacker can manipulate it in some form or another (Mitnick). The culture is so huge and diverse in its different subgroups and cliques that there is no one simple way to capture its entire complex dynamics (Steinmetz). The culture like the term itself isn’t inherently evil; the hacker culture is just painted in a bad light due to actions of a minority of hackers, but sadly the hackers who are seen in the news have caused the culture to be ostracized and seen as dangerous and evil (“Hanging out with script Kiddies”). The culture is made up of technologically adept people, or even just people looking for assistance in learning a new skill, the entire community work to help others solve problems that others can. They use their skills to inspire others and push technology, and humanity forward in any way they can in Brandon Dunson’s words in the article “How I Embraced My Introvert And Joined The Hacker Community” “Every Time You can inspire someone else, or make their path to the finish a bit less bumpy, you are making a difference and you are building and participating in the hacker community” (Dunson). Even though there are hackers out there looking to cause trouble and damage systems for profit or entertainment the majority are just normal people hiding in the background from a judgmental society scared of their abilities, and talents (Hanging out with the script kiddies). Even with the society's judgment forcing them to hide, hackers are still able to affect society in some unique ways.

Hacking has helped push society and a few separate industries forward with some serious nudging for change. The internet is huge part of today, so security is a must for safe browsing and without the unethical black hat hackers then they wouldn’t be anyone forcing and update for cyber security, the state of being protected against the criminal or unauthorized use of electronic data, which is where the white hats come in and start helping patch the issues that black hats want to exploit, that fight is keeping the cyber security business afloat and booming (“Cost of immaturity”). It has also lead to the development of open source programs since hackers like sharing software with each other to make it better that idea has been incorporated in many businesses allowing software to be manipulated and changed which is basically the premise of the GitHub site where developers share their source code and allow other developers to manipulate and change it to their hearts content (Levy). That open source idea also affects those of society without much technical knowledge, the large software such as Google Chrome, or the Android OS on some phones (Steinmetz). The picture “World Wide Desktop Browser Usage Share” (appendix 5) also shows percentage of those using certain browser and as you can see a large number of people are using Google Chrome an open source software which is assisted by hackers adding to it. Its large effect on society is probably it’s most major evolution from the humble beginnings of a small hobby of the tech students of the past, its ability to scare and inspire society today is amazing and it’s only going to grow more and more in the future.

Hacking has come a long way, from the magicians intercepting telegram signals, it has become a powerful tool for either ethical or unethical actions, hacking has become such an ingrained part of society that reading about the latest attack, or seeing people working on building the next big open source project through beta tests are just another part of life. Hackers are so common today, that they could be anywhere the culture has become that massive with its own subgroups. Even with all that growth making it what it is today, the growth of the culture is exponential, every day there are even more amazing things happening in this field than the previous years. Maybe there will be a day where everyone who ends up in the person’s shoes dealing with an unethical hacker will know exactly how to defend themselves because of the ethical ones, maybe or even maybe not. There are many who cannot wait to find out.

 

 

 

Evolution of H4ck3rs Annotated Bibliography

 

CBSSanFrancisco. "White Hat Hackers" Protecting Your Digital Privacy. YouTube, 23 Oct. 2014. Web. 02 Dec. 2016.

This video discusses some of what white hat hackers do.

 

“The Cost of immaturity: Cyber-security.” The Economist 7 Nov. 2015. 59(US). Student Resources in Context. Web. 25 February 2016.

This article give some ideas about how cyber security is going to affect the future if things don’t change in the cyber world concerning hackers both ethical and unethical. It discusses tools, skills, and community with a look at today and the future of the cyber realm.

 

Davis, Amanda. “A History of Hacking.” The Institute. IEEE New Source. 6 March 2015. Web. 23 Feb 2016.

 

This website is a collection of some of the most important events in modern hacking history. It gives stories of some incidents of hacking with details specific to each case. This article gives names of important hackers, tools that were used, and ideas of when hacking can be good or bad.

 

Dunson, Brandon. “How I Embraced My Introvert and Joined The Hacker Community.” Hackaday. HackADay. 16 Feb 2016. Web. 29 Feb 2016.

This is an article about how a person became a hacker after accepting his introverted status. He discusses the stereotype of nerds, geeks, hackers, and loners.  He then goes on to discuss how he joined a hacker community and his experiences in it. I can use this article to talk about hacker groups and psychology of some hackers.

 

“Guglielmo Marconi.” JPG. Wikimedia.org. Wikimedia. N.d. Web. 12 Oct. 2016.

This image shows Guglielmo working on his wireless telegram invention which will be hacked when completed to be one of the first modern events in hacking.

 

“Hacker Tools Pie Chart.” Pandasecurity.com. PandaSecurity., n.d. Web. 9 Nov. 2016.

This chart shows some of the different tools within the malware software family, which can give some insight into how hackers can do what they do with the types of tools they have.

 

The Hacker’s Manifesto.” usc.edu. N.p., 1989. Web. 8 Febuary, 2016.

This site gives the full text of the original Hacker’s Manifesto by The Mentor (a.k.a Loyd Blankenship). It gives a look into the psychology of hackers and how they feel about hacking along with some things about why they hack. This can be used to talk about Loyd Blankenship as an important hacker and the psychology of hacking.

 

"Hacking and Hackers." Opposing Viewpoints Online Collection, Gale, 2015. Opposing Viewpoints In Context, Accessed 28 May 2016.

This article was just an overview an all the information that gale had on Hackers and Hacking. It is an overview article giving information on all aspects from the history to ideas about the future even referencing some tools that hackers use.

 

Hacking Has Become Every American's Worst Nightmare. PNG. 556forensics.com. N.p., n.d. Web. 25 Oct. 2016.

This image shows a chart of some of America’s worst fears focusing on the average person. The chart shows being hacked as the top two items. This shows the effect that black hats have had on people causing this fear.

 

Impact vs. Creativity of Hack. PNG. Dailybits.com. Dailybits, n.d. Web. 12 Oct. 2016.

This image shows some different hacking situations or tools on a graph representing the impact the hack made vs. the creativity of the item. This shows some tools that are used as well as how bad they hurt something or how innovative it was pushing technology.

 

Isaacson, Walter. “The Innovators: How a Group of Hackers, Geniuses, and Geeks Created the Digital Revolution.” New York: Simon & Schuster, 2014. Print.

This book is by a journalist who’s written multiple books about geniuses of today’s age like Steve jobs. This book talks about how different groups of people helped create the digital world today and how each of the contributed to it. I can use this to talk about the history of hacking and some famous hackers who are mentioned.

Islamic State, We Own You!” JPG. Hackread.com. Hack Read. HackRead., n.d. Web. 14 Oct. 2016.

This image shows a screenshot of the ISIS twitter page after it was hacked by anonymous in response to ISIS using twitter as a recruitment medium.

 

“John Nevil Masklyne.” JPG. Wikimedia.org. Wikimedia., n.d. Web. 12 Oct. 2016.

This image shows John Masklyne before he hacked Marconi’s invention to become a staple name in hacking history.

 

“Kevin  Mitnick Social Engineering Image” Sliderplaery.com. n.p., n.d. Web. 29 Oct. 2016.

 

This image gives some information on how Kevin Mitnick used social engineering in order to get into an organization and pretend to work there.

 

 

Levy, Steven. “Hackers: Heroes of the Computer Revolution.” Garden City, NY: Anchor/Doubleday, 1984. Print

This book is all about hackers from the history to ideas and comments on the future. It is a referenced book in many articles concerning hackers. It shows how hacking can be a force for good but also reinstates the reason it is a fear of normal people.

 

Maney, Kevin. "Wanna Fight ISIS? Weaponize Your Laptop; Hacking might be the best way to protect America." Newsweek 8 Jan. 2016. Opposing Viewpoints in Context. Web. 11 Feb. 2016.

This article talks about how ISIS is using technology for recruitment and ‘brainwashing’ to build their ranks and gain sympathy globally. This article suggests that in order to combat them and stall terrorism

 

“Rene Carmille.” JPG. Wikimeadia.org. Wikimedia., n.d. Web. 19 Nov. 2016.

This is an image of Rene Carmille, a hacker who lived during the holocaust and saved thousands of Jewish lives by hacking his own systems.

 

Sanchez, Dennis Paul Nino. “The Mind of The black hat: understanding Today’s Cyber Criminals.” Philippines: Global Knowledge, 2015. Print.

This book was written by an IT security expert who deals with hackers. This book is about the black hat hacker types and the plethora of tools they use. I can use this book to talk about the tools hackers use as well as types and the psychology of hackers.

 

“Security.” JPG. slidesharecdn.com. Certified Ethical Hacker., n.d. Web. 16 Oct. 2016.

This image shows some of the different tools white hat hackers use for ethically protecting users from black hat hackers.

 

“Social Engineering.” Iwiseconsulting.com. Wise Consulting., n.d. Web 20 Oct. 2016.

This image gives the text definition of social engineering as well as an image which depicts the general idea of social engineering.

 

Social Engineering Circle. PNG. Guru99. Guru99, n.d. Web. 14 July 2016.
This image shows the steps to conducting a successful social engineering attack. It accurately describes a skill that hackers use commonly.

 

Steinmetz, Kevin,  Jurg Gerber. "'It doesn't have to be this way: hacker perspectives on privacy." Social Justice 41.3 (2015): 29+. Student Resources in Context. Web. 11 Feb. 2016.

This article was written by an ethical hacker and provides information on how hacking isn’t inherently bad. It give details about way that hacking has helped and some tools hackers use

 

“TMRC members playing Spacewar.” JPG. Wordpress. Videogamehistorian., n.d. Web. 12 Oct. 2016.

This image shows two members of the Tech Model Railroad Club at MIT playing spacewar, A video game they hacked their campuses PDP-1 computer to get working.

 

Top IT Security Salaries. PNG. Checkmarx.com. Dice.com, n.d. Web. 16 Sept. 2016.

This image shows the salaries of those in the IT security field and is a huge example of how the industry is booming. Every career on this chart is making way above minimum wage and will continue growing as long as black hat hackers exist.

 

“Types of Hacker.” Secpoint.com. Secpoint, n.d.. Web. 11 February 2016.

This article was written by sec point an organization who writes about cyber security. This article gives an overview of some common types of hackers. I can use this book to talk about the psychology behind some hacker types and talk about the common hacker types

 

“Web Browswer Usage Share.” JPG. Dazeinfo.com. DazeInfo. n.d., Web. 25 Sep. 2016.

This image shows some of the common internet browsers and shows that open source browsers are some of the most popular showing that the hacker idea of open source has indeed affected parts of society..

 

“Wikileaks Clinton Emails logo.” Wikileaks.org. Wikileaks., n.d. Web. 18 Oct. 2016.

This image depict Hillary siting at a laptop with thought bubbles off of her computer showing some of the albeit exaggerated contents of the emails involved in the email scandal that surfaced during the election.

 

 “WorldWide Desktop Browser Usage Share”. PNG. Staticworld.net. StatCounter, n.d. Web. 25 Aug. 2016

This is another image that shows some of the common internet browsers and shows that open source browsers are some of the most popular showing that the hacker idea of open source has indeed affected parts of society.

 

Zeolla, Jonathan. Personal Interview. 21 March 2016.

Jonathan Zeolla is a certified ethical hacker and Pen tester. He founded Steel City InfoSec which is registered at Deacon a hacker convention. He talked about all the foundation questions to some degree but his main contribution was helping distinguish

white hats and black hats as well as providing hacker history resources.

 

 

Appendix 1

The Hacker's Manifesto

By The Mentor (a.k.a. Loyd Blankenship

https://www.usc.edu/~douglast/202/lecture23/manifesto.html

(“The Hacker’s Manifesto.”)

 

 

 

Appendix 2

(Social Engineering Circle)

 

 

 

 

 

Appendix 3

 

(Impact vs. Creativity of a Hack

 

Appendix 4

(Hacking Has Become Ever American's Worst Nightmare)

 

 

Appendix 5

(WorldWide Desktop Browser Usage Share)



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