[ISN] The hacker's worst enemy? Another hacker

From: InfoSec News (isnat_private)
Date: Tue Aug 13 2002 - 02:29:10 PDT

  • Next message: InfoSec News: "[ISN] Linux Security Week - August 12th 2002"

    By John Leyden
    Posted: 12/08/2002 at 13:02 GMT
    By far the most entertaining - and controversial - speech of this
    year's DNSCON, the UK hacker conference, was delivered by Scotsman Gus
    (something of the Irvine Welsh of the UK's h4xOr scene) who lambasted
    the Hollywood image of hacking.
    Gus, who doesn't admit to being a hacker himself ('that would be
    criminal') but clearly knows a thing or two, fired his opening shot by
    saying anybody who thought hacking was glamorous or a "way to get
    chicks" was hopelessly wrong.
    Hacking is an intellectually challenging, obsessive activity for
    solitary geeks - and one thing it should never be is about bonding
    with other hackers, he told us.
    Speaking in a meeting room at the Imperial Hotel, Blackpool, often
    used in political conferences, Gus's message took a similar form of
    one of Margaret Thatcher's most famous pronouncements.
    She famously said that there was "no such thing as society, just
    individuals and their families" while Gus declared there should be no
    such thing as a hacking community, just hackers and the boxes they
    Hacking is a criminal offence so bragging about it to your friends is
    simply asking for trouble.
    Gus said: "How many of your friends would lie under oath to protect
    "If you tell people what you've done- you're stupid. If you say you're
    a hacker - that's stupid too. You're a criminal - just accept it," he
    In praise of s'kiddies
    Point and click tools are dumbing down hacking, so many script kiddies
    are now attacking sites running code they don't understand. Gus
    deplores this trend, which he believes is getting worse, but
    controversially said the s'kiddies have more right to call themselves
    hackers than people who post code on BugTraq or take part in
    discussion forums because "they're actually out there hacking".
    "Breaking into machines is what makes you a hacker. You could be some
    Ninja coder but if you're not breaking boxes and some s'kiddie is then
    he's a hacker and you're not. It's sad but true," he said.
    Gus reserves particular scorn for 'hackers' who post to BugTraq
    because, as he sees it, "what makes a zero day exploit a patch that
    everyone has applied" are posts to BugTraq.
    If only that were so, we thought.
    Other hackers are your enemy
    According to Gus, the main enemies of hackers are not the media
    ("stupid, harmless") the government or the police ("who are more
    interested in kiddy fiddlers").
    Other hackers (particularly less experienced hackers) are the real
    enemy because they will take over machines you may wish to own and
    root them six ways to Sunday. For that reason educating newbies is
    also stupid, he opines. It's also dangerous to get too close to
    "Who will dob (tell tales - ed) you in if you get caught, but other
    hackers? So why help other people put you in danger?"
    What would the nice Mr Le Carre think Gus went on to talk about what
    he described as the trade-craft of hacking (a term, incidentally,
    taken from John Le Carre novels).
    First rule, get rid of your friends and cultivate casual acquaintances
    - who you'll persuade to share useful tools with and con into thinking
    that you're skilful than you are, the better to earn respect.
    Next secure some bastion hosts ('at least eight') to hide your
    activities online. These will be insecure boxes left open due to
    "human stupidity" or sys admin laziness, not cracked open through zero
    day exploits
    We'll leave the techniques for breaking into boxes, and covering your
    tracks, to some hacker version of the Anarchist's Cookbook, and turn
    our attention to what Gus said about the pleasures of hacking - about
    which he had plenty to say.
    Hacking is better than drugs
    "When you break into your first box you get a rush like you've never
    had. Then the panic sets in and you start to feel a little sick," said
    Gus, warming to his Trainspotting-like theme.
    "Breaking into boxes is like a Martial Art - there's such an
    adrenaline rush. It's the most exciting thing that you can do with
    your clothes on, drugs can't touch it - well you'd have too take a
    load of drugs to touch it."
    So that's what people get out of it, in Gus's view. The why hack in
    the first place?
    The main reason people are drawn to hacking is through seeing a movie
    or, much less frequently, reading a book but this is a terrible
    reason, Gus says.
    "You're a lonely computer geek and you think hacking might get you
    chicks -that's it's glamorous. This is an awful reason to hack, as is
    wanting to be 'part of a community'," he said. "People doing it to
    rebel against school, to 'stick it to the man'" are other bad reasons.
    "That it's interesting is a good reason. Getting access is a good
    reason too, the best reason".
    Gus, who we guess is in in his mid-late 30s, ended his speecch saying
    that when you stop breaking boxes ("which I never actually did") the
    temptation to go back is so strong that you have to cut yourself off.
    Ethics - Isn't that east of London?
    Although his speech was well received there were murmurs of discontent
    later on in the bar. Gus had contradicted himself, they said; he's
    wrong when he says the guys in the DeCSS aren't hackers, others
    They may have had a point, but hey, this is Blackpool - home of the
    End of the Pier Show and spiritual home of the saucy postcard - and
    we'd just been treated to the stand up hacker version of the same.
    ISN is currently hosted by Attrition.org
    To unsubscribe email majordomoat_private with 'unsubscribe isn'
    in the BODY of the mail.

    This archive was generated by hypermail 2b30 : Tue Aug 13 2002 - 05:02:48 PDT