But, sigh...if the Secret Service and the FBI haven’t found out who hacked Target Stores, what are the chances the computer criminals - who hacked the Canadian university’s Office 365 webmail and the AirUC-Secure wi-fi network (a wireless encrypted network allowing users to connect to the internet) to name but two systems tampered with - will be caught, no matter how many whiz kids work in that institution’s IT department, or are enrolled in their Computer Science program? Indeed, the first screen on that university’s website says: Prepare to be amazed.
(One would hope they are referring to their courses and superior educational experiences and not to the facts that A) they are still dumbstruck at being hacked B) had to pay the offender(s) C) haven’t the foggiest idea as to how they got broken into and D) the ransom was paid using untraceable Bitcoins.)
Of course the Calgary Police, who are investigating, might solve the crime(s).
Sure, this hacking crime is small potatoes – although U of C’s IT folks, no doubt munched a ton of potato chips while creating 9,000 new email accounts for staff - but computer hackers inflict millions of dollars of damage to corporations and governmental organizations (defense departments, NASA – it seems the latter is a favorite target for hackers) plus untold heartache on citizens whose identities are stolen. And one criminal computer caper, a scheme affecting more than 100 million people and their personal information, is being heard right now before the Manhattan federal court.
Many admire hackers, not so much for their living and mooching in their parents’ basement and getting away with it, wearing pajamas all day without caring a whit for their looks - but for their ostensibly sticking it to the “man”, for their robbing from the technologically and digitally rich - to give to the...nobody but themselves - whether materially, emotionally, or both.
Some would say that hackers perform a useful public service, showing and proving fault lines in personal and public computer systems. Grateful and rueful companies sometimes pay the hackers through either consultation fees or through direct employment. Again, who says crime doesn’t pay?
And hacking is certainly a crime. In the USA, for example, both the federal and state governments have statutes providing recourse against wiretapping, communication interference, identity theft, access device fraud...you get the idea.
Just to be clear, the hacker community can be divided into the “White Hats” and the “Black Hats.” Here, mainly, we are dealing with the bad guys – the Black Hats. But apparently there are good guys - the White Hats - who tinker with computer software and tickle hardware code for the public’s benefit. In fact, White Hat hacking can be legally authorized. Though he died far too early at just 35, Barnaby Jack, in 2010, showed (at a Black Hat show) how, with only a laptop, he could hack into ATMs and have them spit out cash! He called it “jackpotting.” He then worked with ATM folks to upgrade security.
And American Dan Kaminsky, back in 2008, helped prevent the Internet Domain Name System from malicious re-routing and total failure, known as “DNS Cache Poisoning.”
Chinese hackers have shown how a Tesla electric car can have its doors open unexpectedly when moving. Marcel Lazar, a Romanian, aka Guccifer, claims to have hacked into Hillary Clinton’s private email system – much to the delight of her political opponents.
So there are some generally positive, and specifically political, benefits to hacking.
Of course, if the University of Calgary really wants to get a secure computer system, it should ape what the Pentagon did. Back in early 2016 it INVITED hackers to infiltrate their way into government systems. (Of course many wags might argue such malware might actually improve government delivery of its programs, but that’s a blog for another day.)
And other wags, of course, might ask the hacking-left-hand of the U.S. government what it was doing with the Israeli government with Stuxnet. What’s Stuxnet? It was a cyber warfare program supposedly designed and implemented by both governments to harm and hamper the Iranian nuclear program. It started with a worm...
What’s a worm? Well it is part of the hacker’s glossary, a glossary of terms and words rich in sound and wealthy in meaning that, when used properly or foolishly, like when the word “bagbiter” is introduced here, separates the poseur from a real hacker.
Pretty sure, the pointy heads at the University of Calgary, know that!