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Re: [vox] [OT] junk mail (physical, not UCE)

On Tue, Jul 31, 2001 at 02:42:50PM -0700, Peter Jay Salzman wrote:
> begin: Don Werve <donw@examen.com> quote
> > Brad Benedict wrote:
> > > 
> > > > i served a prison sentence for computer hacking against at&t, sprint, bell
> > > > south, nynex, allnet and a few other telcos.
> > > 
> > > Just out of curiousity, why were you hacking them and how did you get
> > > caught?  I don't know much about hacking, so I don't know why you'd want to
> > > hack a telephone company.  :-\
> > 
> > "Crack" is the correct term (Furrfu!),
> heh.  that distiction is a relatively modern one.  back then everyone
> collectively went under the same term.  hacker.

Yes, which is why "cracker" was coined - the original hackers didn't
like the term being misapplied.

AFAICT, the use of "hackers" as a computing term started with the
bunch of folks at MIT who just wanted to learn everything they could
about the computers they weren't allowed to touch; until the PDP
series was available and they could get direct access to 'em in a lab,
without having to go through the "priesthood".  Stephen Levy's
"Hackers" is an excellent book on this history.  The distinction is
unfortunately blurred a bit, however, since several of the hackers got
interested in cracking (as it's called now), and many actually learned
lock-picking as an additional skill.

> it was all about learning.  except for a few choice bad people.  but show me
> a group of people that don't have a few bad apples among them.   right?

Getting a group of people to agree on what's "bad" is difficult as
well.  Of the large group of computer users who consider themselves
hackers, there are:

- People who believe absolutely anything is morally good if the goal
  is learning.  Information is the ultimate power, and nothing,
  including laws, should keep you from learning.

- People who believe all of the above, and also have no problem
  thrashing someone's system they don't like - especially if it's Big
  Business.  I don't think anyone shirks at calling them crackers or
  computer criminals.

- People who are obsessed with learning, but do respect most laws, and
  the privacy of others, and so don't break into machines they don't
  have permission to access.  These are the people I usually refer to
  when /I/ say "hackers".

- People who break into other computers for the fun of it, and for the
  purposes of boasting to everyone they know; they are not interested
  in learning beyond the interface of tools written by others who
  truly /do/ love learning.  While they refer to themselves as
  hackers, they resemble the originals in no way, and "script-kiddies"
  is the common and more appropriate term to use for them.

The gradient is actually much more varied than the above, but that's
the main grouping, I think.  Unadressed are phreakers and carders,
who are usually crackers, though technically it might be possible to
be a phreaker who is not a cracker.

All of this is IMO and AIUI.  Pete, comments?


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