Wednesday, January 12, 2005

A glimpse inside the world of hackers

Technology is not my forte.
I can handle a skill saw pretty well, and swoon over the beauty of a cordless nailer/finisher. But when I tried my hand at Applesoft Basic years ago I knew that programming was not, nor will it ever be, on my list of stuff to get around to one day.

However, just as I am at the mercy of experts when I drive the car (thank God, there is a certified mechanic in the family) or go to the dentist, when I turn on the PC I usually send up a little prayer of thanks and praise when I finally see that familiar screen and hear the conforting whir of the motor. I remember the days of unreliable second-hand cars. And every four or five years I experience the pain and frustrations of a dying PC.

I can't tell you much about The Merry Mad Monk, but he seems to be pretty savy about IT technology. He was a birddog after Dan Rather right from the jump. He's in your face. And his writing is conversationally clear. (I've noticed that seems to be the case with a good many people from the right. I think it comes from lasser sharp thinking that doesn't get distracted by nuance.)

This post describes the dark side of hackers, ending with a few hints about keeping your system safe and secure. I like to think that I am not at risk. But stories about identity theft cause me to be cautious about credit card transactions. And stories such as this help me stay careful at the keyboard.

Not all hackers are bad. Not all hacking is bad. It is what you hack and the way you go about hacking that determine whether you're a good guy or a bad guy -- a white hat or a black hat.

These kids (scriptkiddies, l337 and old guys) are the majority on IRC and most of them are black hats.

They may or may not (unwittingly or otherwise) associate with other hacker inhabitants of IRC: terrorists, Russian mafia, Chinese government, etc.

Every day on IRC, hundreds of new trojans, worms and viruses are written or modified. Each and every day.

Every day hundreds of thousands of corporate and personal computers are scanned with port scanners, looking for a way in. And every day tens of thousands of computers are compromised and become zombies that connect to secret IRC channels under the control of hackers.

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