Hackers as social phenomenon in modern digital world — КиберПедия 

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Hackers as social phenomenon in modern digital world

In computing, the term “hacker” denotes any highly skilled computer expert. Depending on the field of computing it has slightly different meanings, and in some contexts has controversial moral and ethical connotations1. In its original sense, the term refers to a person in any of the communities and hacker subcultures:

- Hacker culture, an idea derived2 from a community of enthusiast computer programmers and systems designers, in the 1960s around the Massachusetts Institute of Technology's (MIT's) Tech Model Railroad Club (TMRC) and MIT Artificial Intelligence Laboratory. The hobbyist home computing community focused on hardware in the late 1970s (e.g. the Homebrew Computer Club) and on video game software, software cracking, the demoscene in 1980s/1990s.

- Hacker (computer security). People involved with circumvention3 of computer security. This primarily concerns unauthorized remote computer break-ins via communication networks such as the Internet (Black hats), but also includes those who debug4 or fix security problems (White hats), and the morally ambiguous5 Grey hats.

Grey hats are hackers who are neither good nor bad. They sell both fixes and exploits. They mostly do it for personal gain and are usually associated with black hat hackers.

Black hats are hackers who use their knowledge for bad use. Going into people’s computers intrusions all with malicious intent for exploiting or stealing data.

White hats are great hackers employed with the efforts of keeping data safe from other hackers by looking for loopholes6 and hackable7 area. These types of hackers get a lot of money and no jail time due to contracts with the company which hired them and the police. They are more like cyber security guards but in the hacker world they are snitches8.

Today, mainstream usage of "hacker" mostly refers to computer criminals, due to the mass media usage of the word since the 1980s. This includes what hacker slang calls "script kiddies"9– people breaking into computers using programs written by others, with very little knowledge about the way they work. This usage has become so predominant that the general public is unaware that different meanings exist. While the self-designation10 of hobbyists as hackers is acknowledged by all three kinds of hackers, and the computer security hackers accept all uses of the word, people from the programmer subculture emphasize11 the difference between the two by calling security breakers "crackers" (analogous to a safecracker).

Currently, "hacker" is used in two main conflicting ways:

- as someone who is able tosubvert12computer security; if doing so for malicious purposes, the person can also be called a cracker.

- an adherent of the technology and programming subculture.

In the media, a “hacker” is in most cases a computer intruder or criminal. (For example, "An Internet 'hacker' broke through state government security systems in March.") In the computing community, the primary meaning is a complimentary description for a particularly brilliant programmer or technical expert. (For example, "Linus Torvalds, the creator of Linux, is considered to be a hacker.") A large segment of the technical community insists that this is the "correct" usage of the word.

The mainstream media's current usage of the term may be traced back to the early 1980s. When the term was introduced to wider society by the mainstream media in 1983, even those in the computer community referred to computer intrusion as "hacking", although not as the only use of that word. In reaction to the increasing media use of the term exclusively with the criminal connotation, the computer community began to differentiate their terminology. Alternative terms such as "cracker" were coined13 in an effort to distinguish between those adhering to the historical use of the term "hack" within the programmer community and those performing computer break-ins. Further terms such as "black hat", "white hat" and "gray hat" developed when laws against breaking into computers came into effect, to distinguish criminal activities from those which were legal.

However, since network news use of the term pertained14 primarily to the criminal activities despite this attempt by the technical community to preserve and distinguish the original meaning, the mainstream media and general public continue to describe computer criminals with all levels of technical sophistication as "hackers" and do not generally make use of the word in any of its non-criminal connotations. Members of the media sometimes seem unaware15 of the distinction, grouping legitimate "hackers" such as Linus Torvalds and Steve Wozniak along with criminal "crackers".

As a result of this difference, the definition is the subject of heated controversy. Many advocate16 using the more recent and nuanced alternate terms when describing criminals and others who negatively take advantage of security flaws in software and hardware. Others prefer to follow common popular usage, arguing that the positive form is confusing and unlikely to become widespread in the general public. A minority still use the term in both original senses despite the controversy, leaving context to clarify17 (or leave ambiguous) which meaning is intended.

However, the positive definition of hacker was widely used as the predominant form for many years before the negative definition was popularized. Now, however, many software designers in different industries prefer not to be referred to as 'Hacker' as the word “hack” holds a negative denotation18 in many of those industries.

A possible middle ground position has been suggested, based on the observation that "hacking" describes a collection of skills and tools which are used by hackers of both descriptions for different reasons. The analogy is made to locksmithing19, specifically picking locks, which is a skill which can be used for good or evil. Sometimes, hacker also is simply used synonymous to geek20.A true hacker is not a group person. He's a person who loves to stay up all night, he and the machine in a love-hate relationship... They're kids who tended to be brilliant but not very interested in conventional goals… It's a term of derision and also the ultimate compliment."

Fred Shapiro thinks that "the common theory that 'hacker' originally was a benign term21 and the malicious connotations of the word were a later perversion22 is untrue." He found out that the malicious connotations were present at MIT in 1963 already (quoting The Tech, an MIT student newspaper) and then referred to unauthorized users of the telephone network, that is, the phreaker23 movement that developed into the computer security hacker subculture of today.



1. connotation – дополнительное значение слова (положительное или отрицательное)

2. derive – извлечь, произойти, вывести (из чего-либо)

3. circumvention – обман, уловка, обход (закона, правила)

4. debug – отлаживать, удалять баги (из программы)

5. ambiguous – двусмысленный, сомнительный, неясный, неоднозначный

6. loophole – лазейка (в программе)

7. hackable – уязвимый для хакеров

8. snitch – доносчик, осведомитель

9. script kiddy – хакер – дилетант

10. self-designation – самоназвание

11.emphasize–выделять, делать акцент

12.subvert – свергать, низвергать, разрушать

13.coin – отчеканить, оттиснуть, (зд.) создать новое понятие, слово

14.pertain – принадлежать, относиться, подлежать

15.unaware – не знающий, не осознающий, не подозревающий

16.advocate – отстаивать, защищать, поддерживать

17.clarify – освещать, разъяснять

18.denotation – значение (слова, понятия)

19.locksmithing – слесарные работы (по вскрыванию замков)

20.geek – зануда, умник, чудак

21. benign term – безобидный, (безвредный) термин

22. perversion – искажение, ложное толкование

23. phreaker (или phreak)– телефонный мошенник


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