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Sony hacking

(27 Posts)
soontobe Mon 22-Dec-14 10:16:17

A general discussion about the Sony hack.

And. I have become confused on this issue.

Are there "good" hackers, and "bad" hackers?
And wouldnt the "good" hackers, eg the ones trying to stop the "bad" hackers, have had to be "bad" in the first place in order to learn how to hack?

Elegran Mon 22-Dec-14 11:03:44

Hacking is just the technical term for finding out how a system works and what its loopholes are, and how to use it. Whether that is used for good or bad purposes depends on the individual, like any skill or power.

Not sure why you are puzzled.

pompa Mon 22-Dec-14 11:24:50

The term "hackers" is usually considered to be people that obtain illegal unauthorized access into a computer system. This may be an individual just doing it to see if they can, but most commonly companies, organizations or governments trying to spy on the data contained in those system. They may use this data for their own ends or corrupt the data to cause mayhem.
I cannot think of a case of a good hacker, a good hacker could only be good if he had permission to access the system, he would then not be a hacker as he would have legal knowledge of the pass codes etc.

GillT57 Mon 22-Dec-14 11:32:18

Yes pompa thats how I would see it, if they are given permission to access the IT system then they are not hackers.

pompa Mon 22-Dec-14 11:44:40

I would liken it to a burglar, even if they do not steal or cause damage they are never "good". If you invite them in they are a guest.

Elegran Mon 22-Dec-14 11:55:03

DS, who earns a living at programming and designing computer systems, sometimes talks about hacking (benignly) into an application to see how it has been constructed. No burglary.

pompa Mon 22-Dec-14 12:21:37

As an ex IT professional, unless he has the author's permission to hack into the software this is like entering someone's home without permission. It may be benign, and commonly done, Whilst not being "bad" it cannot be described as "good". If he had permission to do this, he would have access to the source code and not need to hack. Or if the author was happy for people see his code he would publish it, as is the case with "open source software"
I certainly do not condemn anyone for doing this, it can be fun to try to break a security system, just to see if you can. It's the programmers equivalent of a crossword puzzle.
You say your DS just wants to see how it is constructed, when he has that information, what will he do if he finds some clever coding that he has not seen before ? Most programmers would utilise that knowledge in their own work at some point.

soontobe Mon 22-Dec-14 12:36:04

But how can a person hack legally?

Are there places and systems to hack legally and/or authorised?

soontobe Mon 22-Dec-14 12:39:40

I didnt see pompa's last post.
Not sure if his post answers my last one or not.

I ask because I know a hacker, and know of several others.

The hacker I know, intends to work to help out the Government at some point in his career [at present he works in IT].

soontobe Mon 22-Dec-14 12:42:44

Are most IT workers hackers?
And that is how they are good at doing their job, as they have to know how computer systems work in the first place, to be able to do their job well?
Rather like wanting to work with clocks, so have to open a clock to find out how they work?

pompa Mon 22-Dec-14 13:07:57


You ask two questions.

The first is particularly interesting. If you were a hacker working for,say, the US government, you may well be employed to hack into another governments security system and as such be working legally according to your employer, but I'm sure the other government would not see it that way.
Hackers are certainly employed by companies to obtain information to give them an advantage, also depends on your position as to whether this is acceptable.

Your second question.
Yes programmers do learn from others work, normally from code that is made freely available, not by breaking security that protects a programme.
Because a clock mechanism is not secured in any way, I would liken this to open source software. However if that mechanism is patented, we can examine it but not copy it.

To use my burglar allergy, I would liken breaking into a piece of software to see how it works to someone walking into your home through a closed door, uninvited, just to have a look round, not something most of us would be happy about.

soontobe Mon 22-Dec-14 13:22:19

Can you sort of hack into your own computer, if you see what I mean, to see how it works? confused.

I suppose what I am asking , deep down is, is there a nice, perfectly legit way for hackers to learn their trade, before they work for their own, lets say, British Government?

And else, Governments know they are using "rogue" people?
And ones who, ironically, have obviously broken the law, to be able to work for the Government in the first place? confused

So, do Governments just accept that they are employing people who must have broken the law, to be able to work for them?

Sorry, many questions.

soontobe Mon 22-Dec-14 13:23:53

Are you saying, pompa, that hackers are employed to spy on a competitor, as in say retail espionage?
I hadnt thought of that.

pompa Mon 22-Dec-14 13:33:01

Yes, certainly, large companies will employ people to try to obtain information from their rivals to give them an advantage. They will not be called "hackers" on their job description, more like "product development technician"

This could be marketing or finacial information, proposed products, software etc. I'm sure that a well known manufacture of games consuls would love to know what their competitors are planning next.

pompa Mon 22-Dec-14 13:38:40

The recent News of the World phone hacking scandal is an example.

soontobe Mon 22-Dec-14 13:43:42

Yes programmers do learn from others work, normally from code that is made freely available, not by breaking security that protects a programme

So hackers can be perfectly legitimate? They can have learnt their trade perfectly legally, and know all they need to know to say work as a Government hacker?

soontobe Mon 22-Dec-14 13:45:29

I am not talking about a DS.

soontobe Mon 22-Dec-14 13:46:34

oops. I see that you were talking to Elegran about her DS. Sorry.

pompa Mon 22-Dec-14 13:56:27

I doubt any Government would admit to employing hackers, they would be hidden away within the security services. Even if a hacker was employed by a government his actions would not be considered legal under international law, and if caught could, in theory, be subject to the law of the offended party, as has been the case with spies.

pompa Mon 22-Dec-14 13:58:49

No I was not specifically talking about Elegrans DS, most programmers enjoy breaking security systems for fun.

soontobe Mon 22-Dec-14 14:02:16

So a Government can be acting legal under its own laws, but at the same time, it is not acting legally according to international law.

And hackers can have learnt to hack perfectly ok and legally, using "open source software".

pompa Mon 22-Dec-14 14:22:50

You would not learn hacking skills from open source software, programming skill, yes, but not hacking as their is no security to be broken. Likewise you would not learn to pick a lock if you had the keys.
Clever hackers are very accomplished in computer system security at a level way below normal programming. How they develop those skills is beyond my knowledge, as are the skills of the guys that develop computer processors.
There are companies that employ such people to test other companies security systems by attempting to break them, hence you get so many security updates for your home computer as people discover new loop holes.
In the same way companies like McAfee employ technicians to try to pre-empt hackers. These technicians need the same skills as the hackers.

soontobe Mon 22-Dec-14 15:46:23

Do you mean way above?

The person I know does test other companies security systems.
I sort of wanted to know if he could have acquired these skills legitimately.
Strange job isnt it.

Sony hacking.
Do you think this will be a wake up call to anyone?
Or does everyone know that hacking goes on, so no one will change their computer ways at all.

Grannyknot Mon 22-Dec-14 17:43:55

I also thought hacking = illegal or unauthorised and therefore "bad". I had no idea that hacking can be "authorised".

pompa Mon 22-Dec-14 18:43:52

Yes way above my knowledge, and I worked as an IT for 15 years developing manufacturing software. I wouldn't have a clue how to break into any major security system.

I don't think it is a wake up call, all companies like Sony will be well aware of the risks, but hackers are always looking for new ways in and companies are trying to counter it with improved security.
10 years ago we could get away with updating our anti virus software perhaps once a month, now it gets updated daily.

To give you an idea how lax most of us are, watch this video about a typical town. I have some indie info on this video, so I know the results are quite genuine, and scary. It is aimed at commercial customers, but there is some good advice for home users.