Tech Talk with Devaka

The best cyber movie I’ve seen up to this day has to be Swordfish. Hugh Jackman plays the role of Stanley Jobson, a computer hacker who is forced to break into government networks so that he can save his daughter.

The computer simulations were over the top, but the idea of a hacker and what he is capable of doing was portrayed really well. With it, the amazing action sequences and Halle Berry made Swordfish one of the best movies of that year. It’s very cool to see how media portrays computer hackers, whether a hero, villain or just a teenager trying to have some fun.

There is a common understanding that a hacker is a criminal. This is partly true. Hackers are a diverse group, simultaneously blamed with causing billions of dollars in damages as well as credited with the development of the World Wide Web and the founding of major tech companies. The two extremes are referred to as “Black hat hackers” and “White hat hackers.”

Black hat hackers:

Also known as “crackers,” the intention of this group of hackers is to exploit computer systems and create havoc in peoples lives. Some of them do it for fun and curiosity, while others are looking for personal gain. You would have heard on the news hackers being arrested for breaking into high-profile government agencies, banks and stealing information, software and money at times. The fact is, most of them want to be arrested! The ultimate glory a cracker can get is to show everyone what he did and what he is capable of doing. Pride is far more important than becoming rich for these guys.

Jonathan James:

At the age of 16, Jonathan became the first juvenile to be sent to prison for hacking. His exact words when interviewed were “I was just looking around, playing around. What was fun for me was a challenge to see what I could pull off.” Jonathan cracked into the NASA computers and stole software code that was worth USD 1.7 million. Due to this break-in, NASA had to shutdown all of its computer systems costing them almost USD 100,000 a day.

White hat hackers:

Hackers who used their skills for the betterment of technology and society, are known as white hat hackers. Also tagged as “ethical hackers,” they are usually in the forefront of cutting-edge technology, pushing the boundaries of existing technologies without permission but not by breaking the law. Most companies hire such people to test the integrity of their systems, to make sure “crackers” don’t break into them.

Tim Berners Lee:

Known to the world as the person who invented the World Wide Web, created a hypertext prototype system that helped researchers in his University (Oxford) share and update information easily. He later on took the idea of hypertext and TCP together and created the WWW.

Linus Torvalds:

Father of Linux and a mega star in the free and open source world, said “I just want to have fun making the best damn operating system I can.” His efforts in creating the Linux kernel in 1991, was the beginning of the Linux operating system which is now widely adopted and driven by the largest developer community out there today.

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