Be Afraid… Be Very Afraid

By BitcoDavid

'E Pluribus Unum', a white Vermont marble scul...
‘E Pluribus Unum’, a white Vermont marble sculpture, 1982, President Thomas Jefferson Elementary School, Honolulu, Hawaii (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

They’re everywhere, lurking under every rock, skulking behind every dark corner. The evil doers. The criminals, bent on the senseless destruction of all you hold dear. They exist only to rape your daughters, steal your goods – oh, and hack into your identity.

Whether it’s crazed road ragers who will shoot you for cutting them off in traffic, teenaged gang initiates who kill at random, immigrants who dig through your trash looking for credit card numbers or techie geniuses who want to turn your computer into a zombie, you’re constantly being told to live in fear.

E pluribus unum should be rewritten as, be afraid and buy some crap. Build more prisons and cut the school budget. I’m scared, and only a kristallnacht  of prosecution will let me sleep at night.

But Black men with guns aren’t our only criminal problem these days. Hackers. Hackers are everywhere, using their 200 I.Q.s as weapons against us. All we want to do is go on FaceBook – but no. These Gen-Y cyber-terrorists are out to post kiddie porn all over our pages, and use our e-mail addresses to steal our jobs.

Phreaking equipment
Phreaking equipment (Photo credit: pyoorkate)

Speaking as a member of the Hacker community, and as someone with – oh just a smidge – of technical skill, let me explain something to you. There’s Hackers, Crackers, Phreakers, Social Engineers and Script Kiddies. Hackers are people who want to know how things work. We’re equivalent to the Hotrodders of the 1950s. Steve Jobs was a Hacker. So was Bill Gates. Crackers on the other hand, are guys who actually try to break into computer networks – sometimes to do damage, but most often, simply to prove that they can. Phreakers are specific to telephone systems. There was a time when you could access any corporate or government network by simply punching in the right numbers on your phone. As systems grew more complex, Phreaking began to ebb in popularity. however, Phreakers still exist.  Social Engineers don’t use technology. They manipulate wet-ware (you) to get access to systems. A Social Engineer is the guy who calls you at work and says, “Hi, I’m over here in the advertising department, and I forgot Bob’s password. You wouldn’t know it, would you?”

how-to-catch-script-kiddies
how-to-catch-script-kiddies (Photo credit: liquidslave)

Finally, we have Script Kiddies. These are people who simply go to certain Web sites to download Trojans and other malware. They actually know less about computers than you do.

Anonymous
Anonymous (Photo credit: Schuilr)

So on one hand you have a group of people who work towards Internet freedom, citizen journalism, pseudo-Socialist information sharing and flash-mob protesting. And on the other you have the D.O.J. Now, I’m not saying that true cyber-crime doesn’t exist. Nor am I defending it, or trying to say that it doesn’t pose a threat.

You can download a free and very effective anti-virus program here, and none of the above will be able to do anything to hurt you.

But like everything else where the Justice system is concerned, one needs to read between the lines and develop a sense of nuance. God forbid we end up with a War on Hacking similar to our failed and insane War on Drugs.

Personally, I’m far more afraid of Bank of America, than I am of some kid who knows a little perl.

To learn more, go to this article from the NYT, or here on Twitter.

BitcoDavid is a blogger and a blog site consultant. In former lives, he was an audio engineer, a videographer, a teacher – even a cab driver. He is an avid health and fitness enthusiast and a Pro/Am boxer. He has spent years working with diet and exercise to combat obesity and obesity related illness.

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