Why the age of the “hacker hero” is over

hackers

More like the “hacker ninja”.

Does anyone remember when Anonymous was using every tool at their disposal to attack the Church of Scientology? Does anyone remember when WikiLeaks published sensitive diplomatic secrets? Those were the days when I was a teenager, when hacking was being used for an actual cause. Flash forward to the year 2014, and hacking has now become the tool of the obnoxious cyber-bully with too much time on his hands.

What do I mean? I mean that hackers today aren’t using their tools for a just cause, and are instead using hacking as an outlet for their hatred of the outside world. A few days before Christmas, Anonymous spent their time threatening the popular singer Iggy Azalea’s privacy (or to be specific, threatening the release of a sex tape allegedly featuring her). The group have claimed that they were doing this because she was “misappropriating black culture”, but if you ask me, I think they just hate her. Popular musicians have always been targets of hate because of their popularity in the mainstream. Anonymous, on the hand, have thought of the most pretentious reason to justify their hatred, while not making a definite statement over the existence of any sex tape.

Threatening celebrities is one thing, but it pales in comparison to hacking an entire computer network to intimidate a movie studio. Of course, I’m referring to the time when a hacking group known as the “Guardians of Peace” obtained and released several details and emails pertaining to Sony employees. They’re motives were unclear, but they clearly despised Sony Pictures Entertainment, and several allusions to The Interview caused people to believe that the hacks were caused by the film, or that North Korea might have been behind the hacks. There’s also the numerous hackings of the PlayStation Network that were carried out by a group called the Lizard Squad, which I’ve heard happens very frequently.

My point is that hacking is not something that’s glamorous. The truth of the matter that hackers are little more than criminals, no matter what luminous case they hide behind. Why treat hackers any better because there was a time where they appealed to a younger generation’s sense of justice? Remember that, while hackers are capable of doing good, they are same people who could just as easily steal your personal information and use that to assume your identity, and I doubt that it will stop there. What if, at some point in the future, the hackers become the soldiers that fight in the world’s first “cyber-war”? Of course, that sounds quite unlikely, but it’s not too unreal. After all, some have compared the hacks against Sony to the beginning of a possible cyber-war.

All sensationalism aside, it’s easy to forget about the central issue, that hackers exploit our comfortable reliance on technology, and whenever they strike, they reveal a glaring weakness of modern society – that we have taken technology for granted to the point that it has been integrated fully into the fabric of society. Our whole world now revolves around technology to the point that we don’t even think about it, and that’s why hacking is able to scare so many.

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