But when my computer
screen started flashing as if gasping for air and slowly died down
months ago, I blamed electric current fluctuations. But when my files
disappeared and my computer turned alarmingly uncooperative, I referred
the case to the expert, my husband.
For the first time, I
was hit by a computer virus.
It was not as simple as
unplugging the computer connection, sleeping on it for a few days while
a computer surgeon works on the damage so everything could be good as
I saw months of hard
work on research, completed manuscripts stashed in my hard disk, long
hours spent online, time, money, and effort my spouse has invested in
setting up the whole system, all go down the drain and turn into
Going through the
process of repair and reconstruction is painfully tedious, time
consuming, and costly.
I was angry. I took it
as an attack on my person. The perpetrator has no heart.
A series of disturbing
yet quite interesting cyber intrusions that followed prodded me to
quench my curiosity and do a personal research on what inspires the
behaviour behind the waste of skill, time and resources involved in
these damaging cyber pursuits and other electronic petty crimes that
make life miserable for honest internet users.
Anyone who enters your
home without your consent is committing an offence theoretically. Your
computer system is an extension of your boundaries and must not be
infringed. When someone gains unauthorized access to your computer in
any manner or utilizes the computer technology in performing a felony,
he/she commits a cyber crime.
The Hacker is always
the first person that comes to mind in relation to cyberspace
violations. After all, who else can be as knowledgeable and bold enough
to break into someone else’s computer system?
Hackers used to have
nobler objectives for their being. In the earlier days of the Computer
technology, they were the computer experts/geniuses who tested computer
systems, with the owners’ consent, for loopholes and recommended better
programs or fixed the errors themselves to frustrate any effort to
exploit the defective system by more dangerous ‘creatures.’ They even
had the Hackers’ Code of Ethics.
There are two types of
Hackers: The Ethical Pros, the highly skilled professionals who hire out
their skills to organizations concerned about their own network’s
safety. They represent Hackers of earlier generation. The other type is
the Cyber Rambos or plain crackers-despised by the Elite Hackers,
Crackers crack/break systems for superficial reasons. (UC San Diego
Psycho. Dept.: Computer & Network Resources)
But by what many
Hackers have become these days, it is difficult to ascribe their
destructive behaviors to nobility instead of outright violation.
And by whatever name
they are called, these cyber felons have become simply faceless and
nameless ‘hackers’ to their victims.
An online article by
David Benton entitled: ‘What’s Inside a Cracker?’ from SANS (Sys Admin,
Audit, Network, Security) Information Security Reading Room, states
seven psychological profiles of malicious hackers as documented by
Canadian Psychologist Marc Rogers M.A., Graduate Studies, Dept. of
psychology, university of Manitoba and a former Police Computer Crimes
Newbie/Tool Kit (NT):
new to hacking, have limited computer/programming proficiencies; rely on
ready-made pieces of software (tool kits) that are readily available in
disgruntled employees or ex-employees proficient in how the company’s
internal systems work;
Coders (CD) and Virus
Writers: programmers who’d like to see themselves as elite; they write
codes but not for personal use. They have their own networks to
experiment with “zoos.” They leave to others to introduce their codes
into the “wild” or Internet. (Hacker Psych 101 by Jeremy Quittner);
antisocial geeks, the most visible, socially inept, and burdened with
unresolved anger that they take into cyberspace; they relate better to
computers than humans and have better computer skills and some
programming capabilities; capable of writing their own software, they
intentionally engage in malicious acts such as defacing web pages,
spamming, credit card number theft, etc.;
Old Guard Hackers (OG):
have no criminal intent in its real sense but display an alarming
disrespect for personal property with great interest in intellectual
(PC) and Cyber Terrorists (CT): most dangerous; They are professional
criminals and ex-intelligence operatives who are guns for hire. They
specialize in corporate espionage, are extremely well trained and have
access to state of the art equipments;
Further, Rogers pointed
out that not all Hackers are criminals. He has categorized them as
follows: (Jeremy Quittner, Hacker Psych 101);
Old School Hackers:
akin to the 1960s style computer programmers from Stanford MIT for whom
it is an honor to be a hacker; interested in analyzing systems with no
criminal intent; they believe the Internet was designed to be an open
Script Kiddies/ Cyber –
Punks: wannabe hackers and crackers; use other Cracking programs
carelessly with the intent to vandalize and corrupt systems; often
caught red-handed because they brag their exploits online.
breaking into systems and selling information Is their livelihood; they
get hire for espionage; often have ties with organized Criminal groups;
not interested in disrupting systems but more on stealing intelligence
The list of motives is
endless: boredom, illicit thrill, addiction, blackmail or low self
esteem, and a desperate need for recognition from the hacker peer group,
all cowardly performed under the protection of anonymity.
“Underlying the psyche
of criminal hackers may be a deep sense of inferiority. The mastery of
the computer technology or the shut down of a major site causing
millions of dollars of damage is real power trip.” (J. Quittner, Hacker
Psych 101, Hackers: Computer Outlaws)
Jarrold M. Post, a
George Washington University Psychiatrist says: It’s (Hackers) a
population that takes refuge in computers because of their problems
sustaining real world relationships.”
The less information
you share in the Internet the better. But as computer wizards, Hackers
will always find ways to reconstruct your identity even with very little
details in their possession.
However, there are
varied ways by which you, a legitimate Internet user can be protected.
Know the warning signs and get educated on how to thwart any attempt to
victimize you. Don’t take the wired blows sitting down.
“Constant awareness and
updating of knowledge is the best defense to any attack,” wrote Shayne
Gregg, CA (NZ), CISA, CMC, in ‘A Response to Recent Cyber Attacks.’
(Information Systems Audit & Control Association InfoBytes)
I recommend The
Complete Idiot’s Guide to: Protecting Yourself Online by Preston Gralla,
Executive Editor, ZDNet. It is comprehensive, easy to understand, and a
must for every Internet user’s library.
HACKERS, CYBERPUNKS, et al
Cyber Crime is not
monopolized by hackers or crackers. The paedophile, thief or drug dealer
in your community who hire computer experts to carry out their illegal
activities online are as guilty and despicable.
Just like the criminals
roaming out in the real world, Cyber felons are a bunch of
psychologically imbalanced and misguided citizens who happen to have the
dexterity to commit electronic transgressions or hire a computer expert
to do the job and will never get enough despite their Cyber Glory and
Still the tendency to
commit a crime lies hidden in wholesome images, while the unsuspecting
is often caught by surprise. What you don’t see is sometimes what you
Hackers cannot be
strictly stereotyped. Peter Shipley, Chief Security architect for the
Big Five firm KPMG avers: “I know a lot of hackers, including one who
spends an hour and a half in the gym everyday. He is built. I know of
women who are knock-down gorgeous who are hackers.”
tech-crazed folks travel through your wires to make your computer system
malfunction, steal your identity or get paid to give you trouble, it’s a
sign that you do not take the needed precaution whenever you log in.
When I asked myself
quietly back then “Why me?” I guess the reply would be “And why not?” As
with most inventions, the Internet is being abused and mishandled. And
as always, a helpless victim completes the drama.
Anyone can be a
casualty at random regardless if one is honest, educated, high profile,
residing at the far end of the globe or a Stay-at-Home- Mom working hard
and peacefully from her abode.
Hackers won’t care how his/her prey will feel.
But I am still hoping
that such an impressive brainwork will be put to good use by present day
hackers, just how their predecessors intended Hacking to be used.