Hackers aren’t heroes, and they aren’t just some kids being idiots

The problem with hackers is that they are somehow still seen as a bunch of anti-social kids and young adults acting out on the Internet in a way that is more nuisance than crime.  A bit like getting your brand new fence tagged by some scrote with a large marker.

The truth is that these are highly organised networks of sophisticated criminals that cause damage and extort money.

Right now, when someone is hacked, we tend to shift the blame on the people not running sufficient security, or having had some other lapse.   We victim blame.

Computer systems at South Korea’s nuclear plant operator have been hacked, the company said on Monday, sharply raising concerns about safeguards around nuclear facilities in a country that remains technically at war with North Korea.

The Korea Hydro and Nuclear Power Co Ltd (KHNP) and the government said only “non-critical” data was stolen by the hackers, and that there was no risk to nuclear installations, including the country’s 23 atomic reactors.

But the hacking was reported as the United States accused North Korea of a devastating cyberattack on Sony Pictures.

Experts voiced alarm that the controls of the nuclear reactors could be at risk.

“This demonstrated that, if anyone is intent with malice to infiltrate the system, it would be impossible to say with confidence that such an effort would be blocked completely,” said Suh Kune-yull of Seoul National University.

“And a compromise of nuclear reactors’ safety pretty clearly means there is a gaping hole in national security,” said Suh, who specialises in nuclear reactor design.

Just like you can break into any house, hackers can break into any computer system.  They just need time and eventually they find a way in, frequently using techniques where people are fooled into doing part of the job for them.   

Instead of treating these criminals, terrorists and digital war lords as heroes, it is time we start taking them more seriously.  Whether they are using your baby monitoring Cam to take photos of you naked as you go check on baby in the middle of the night, or they dump emails of bloggers or movie executives, or even if they take over a nuclear power plant, the mere act of accessing systems with the intent to commit a crime should be seen as a serious violation with huge penalties.

We tend to not think there is any harm done.  No blood.  No deaths.  No “real” victims.  But this is clearly not the case.  And even though hackers are currently not easily tracked and identified, this should not mean we shift the blame on the people we can identify:  the victims.

“You know, they were only running XYZ security, they were basically asking for it.”


– Reuters via Stuff

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As much at home writing editorials as being the subject of them, Cam has won awards, including the Canon Media Award for his work on the Len Brown/Bevan Chuang story. When he’s not creating the news, he tends to be in it, with protagonists using the courts, media and social media to deliver financial as well as death threats.

They say that news is something that someone, somewhere, wants kept quiet. Cam Slater doesn’t do quiet and, as a result, he is a polarising, controversial but highly effective journalist who takes no prisoners.

He is fearless in his pursuit of a story.

Love him or loathe him, you can’t ignore him.

To read Cam’s previous articles click on his name in blue.