Consequences of Uses of Computing: Hacking

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UNIT 2 - ⇑ Consequences of Uses of Computing ⇑

← Code of conduct Hacking Digital rights management →

The term hacking can have two meanings:

  1. The term might mean that you have taken some existing code and hacked it to do what you want it to. For example you take pre-existing open-source game code and use it to make your own game with. This is legal.
  2. The other meaning is the more common, this is the idea that you break through some security system, bypass a copy protection, get access to data you shouldn't have access to etc. All this is illegal and sometimes termed cracking. Online financial and identity thefts are growing massively around the world.
Richard Stallman is an example of an early day hacker, in the legal sense of the word
Gary McKinnon is an example of a cracker, having hacked into the US Military
Hacking Hats

Within the hacking community, in the second sense of the term, there are two main groups.

The term white hat in Internet slang refers to an ethical hacker, or a computer security expert who specializes in ensuring the security of an organization's information systems.[1] White hats may flag up security vulnerabilities on corporate websites and bring them to the attention of companies or organisations before the bad guys can make use of them. Recently companies have recognised the use of white hats, with companies such as Facebook and Google offering bug bounty for people who can bring their attention to security flaws in their products

A black hat is a hacker who "violates computer security for little reason beyond maliciousness or for personal gain"[2] Black Hat Hackers are what the media will often talk about when talking about 'hackers'. Black Hats break into secure networks to destroy data or make the network unusable for those who are authorized to use the network. Examples include the Lulzsec hacking group that hacked corporate websites for the 'lulz', releasing thousands of user account details of companies such as Sony.

References[edit | edit source]

  1. What is white hat? - a definition from
  2. R. Moore, Cybercrime: Investigating High Technology Computer Crime, 2005, Matthew Bender & Company, p258