Black hat or White hat! Computer Hacking Explained

Posted: November 29, 2010 in A Brief History

A Brief History

One might not suspect that the art, or scourge, of computer hacking was created at one of the havens for technological excellence.

True, at MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology), a group of students developed the technique and borrowed their name from the “hackers” of the late 1800s who found amusement in pranking the emerging telephone companies.Getting their laughs and skills from hacking and cracking into primitive computers and exploiting the Arpanet (predecessor to the internet), they created a novelty that would become the target of federal crackdown in years to come. To define hacking in short, we can say that an artistic criminal offense of breaking into another remote system without the owner’s consent for the purpose of stealing information is what is hacking.

However, the act of hacking started out innocently, and was basically a method of trying to figure out how computer systems worked. The 1970s saw the rise in “phreaking,” or phone hacking, headed by John Draper. This method allowed the user of a “blue box,”, when used with a Captain Crunch whistle of 2600 hertz which accessed the AT&T long distance system, to make free long distance calls. Hackers initiated with accessing the free phone calls through a varied range of sources, thereby managing to circumvent into the nation’s radio system and the phoning system resulting in a tremendous phone fraud nationwide.

After the age of “phreaking,” computers became not only the target, but also the forum, for a growing hacker population to communicate. The creation of bulletin board systems (BBS) allowed this communication and the technological possibility of more serious government and credit card hacking became possible. At this time in the early 80’s, hacking groups such as the Legion of Doom began to emerge in the United States, giving organization, and thus more power to hackers across the country.

Once this happened, breaking into the computers became a legitimate activity, with its own groups and soon its own voice with the 2600 magazine, launched in 1984. The effects of computer hacking were serious. Two years later, inevitably, Congress launched the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act that outlawed hacking. Over the years, there was a series of noticeable occurrences as the worst consequential effect of computer hacking on more high profile cases, such as the Morris Worm, responsible for infecting government and university systems, and the Mitnick case in 1995, which captured Kevin Mitnick, steeling as many as 20000 credit card numbers.

In 1999, security software became widely known by the public, and with the release of new Windows programs, which were littered with security weaknesses, they became successful because of necessity. This fraudulent act of computer hacking is perhaps the major problem, confronting the rapidly expanding population of Internet users today, with the systems still trying to battle online hackers.

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