By Mathew Schwartz
Do hackers have an image problem? As far as many self-professed hackers are concerned, the hacking underground is doing just fine, thank you very much. Now move along.
Discussions about hacking (taking things apart and putting them back together again) and cracking (breaking into systems or software, typically for illegal purposes) can be challenging. Many non-hackers see cracking as synonymous with hacking. Many self-professed hackers shout down outside analysis of their activities or motives. Then, of course, there are those limelight-stealing amateur upstarts — in the eyes of many hackers — known as hacktivists who have the temerity to crack poorly secured databases, claim the hacker mantle and then brag about it.
Judging by the quantity and range of responses to my recent column, "One Secret That Stops Hackers: Girlfriends," many hacking supporters have strong feelings about research showing that many young crackers simply "age out" once they get a girlfriend or other life responsibilities. "Someone who does not understand," tweeted more than one reader. But others supported the findings: "The story is completely true, tho. Happened to me and many of my friends. Exactly as late teens, and then we got girlfriends," read one post to Slashdot.
Anecdotal insights and opinions about hackers — never mind the relationship proclivities of the hacking-inclined — abound. So here are some thoughts in response to the comments on my column asking how we might better help young hacking aficionados steer clear of jail.
Source: Information Week