It’s actually a smarter crime because imagine if you rob a bank, or you’re dealing drugs. If you get caught you’re going to spend a lot of time in custody. But with hacking, it’s much easier to commit the crime and the risk of punishment is slim to none. –Kevin Mitnick
The world is endlessly changing, and we all know the internet has changed it more than most things that came before it. The dissemination of knowledge, entertainment, ecommerce, and many other things all fall under its endless scope. But one that is and will continue to be debated fiercely is that of hackers. In the World Wild Web, hackers are seen as both criminals and freedom fighters. They can do both great good and at times great harm.
The most notable hacker organization is that of Anonymous. But oddly, Anonymous is not an organization at all, but a loose association of individuals who all choose to fly the same banner. There is no figure head, no leader, no end goal or plan devised by the collective, but yet they all claim the same colors. The only widely excepted claim of the organization is to preserve internet freedoms. Beyond that their targets are chosen at random, by those who feel either great wrongs are being created by an association and need to be righted, or some selfish design either being personal or for the proverbial lulz they create.
Either way, it’s to be noted that hackers in sum are not going anywhere anytime soon. But the distinction between the various camps that exist should be understood, as well as why they exist before any concluding perception is to be made. It is with that purpose of clarity that this article is written. So without further ado, let’s discuss the 4 major points as to why hackers do what they do.
Hacking Is Much Easier To Evade Authorities and Go Unnoticed
Regardless of the purpose of the hacking, it is much easier to go unnoticed online when doing their deeds. Hence with the hacktivist organization name Anonymous, there should be no surprise as to why that name was chosen. If a person who knows how to be careful online in concealing their identity, there is very little that can be done to find out who they are. You can work remotely from anywhere, in isolation or out in plain sight.
In contrast, if you look how similar deeds could be done in real life, whether it be a crime, a heroic deed, or for fun, it is very difficult to completely conceal your identity. Something will be known whether it is from an eye witness account, video/audio surveillance, fingerprints left behind, other forms of DNA, footprints, and the list goes on. As far as being able to do anything completely anonymous, the easiest avenue to accomplish this is online, regardless if the purpose be righteous or evil.
Punishment for Internet Crimes Less Severe Than Their Real Life Counterparts
This fact will no doubt change in the near future as it is becoming increasingly obvious that many crimes persist online, and many criminals are choosing to do their deeds online because the punishment is significantly less severe. For example, let’s discuss animal rights and activists. They may well attempt to infiltrate an organization to gather evidence no cruel or inhumane treatment, they may try to free animals or disrupt production; they could attempt to slander the business or even in extreme instance burn down a building or destroy private property. Each of these criminal activities comes with their own punishments which in the end will add up to a heft sentence or fine. Trespassing, theft, destruction of property, defamation, and the list of charges goes on.
Even though theoretically, the same crimes are being committed online, the laws against them are not in place or even considered many times. So even if a hacker were to be caught doing something illegal, they would not be punished as fully had they been caught doing similar crimes in real life. As mentioned before, this will no doubt change. But it certainly gives incentive for criminals to look online to commit their crimes.
Can Be Used For Good, Evil, and Even For The Lulz They Garner
Not all hackers are trying to steal your identity, nor are they all trying to take down KKK and neo-nazi websites. Sometimes they simply do it for the lulz or trolling purposes. For those that don’t know, the broken acronym lulz stems from lol which means to laugh out loud. While trolling is when an individual deliberately upsets another person online for no other reason than they can, there is no other purpose than to upset. Now when all three of these reasons for hacking are thought upon, you can then understand that hackers, just as any other individual, are unique in their purposes for hacking.
For example, a righteous hacker will attack organizations that they feel deceive, lie, steal, or corrupt and as such need to be stopped. That is where the term hacktivist originates from, they are hacker activists. An evil hacker would be one that does want to empty your bank account, steal information to sell off, quite people that otherwise are entitled to freedom of speech, and many other things that would be considered wrong by most. Then there are the hacker trolls, or those that do it for the lulz. A troll hackers deeds serve no other purpose than their own enjoyment. This can result in both good and bad deeds being done, but that doesn’t matter. The only thing that matters is that the hacker troll feels they’ve upset someone, their idea is that it’s the internet and is not meant to be taken seriously and that people do indeed take it too seriously.
Over 9,000?! Gives The Individual Significantly More Power Than Ever Before In History
The Over 9,000?! is in reference to hacker lingo, and refers to something of impressive power and skill. But with the advent of the internet being available to any individual who so desires to use it, they unknowingly are given more power than any other person has had before in history. Between the knowledge and information that can be found, the ease and ability to get any message you can conjure to be heard by hundreds, thousands, and even millions of people. These are no trifling matters, and the internet as a whole is tremendously underrated by those that use it. This point cannot be states clear enough.
So when groups of people or individuals have a goal or idea in mind, more so nowadays than in the past they are able to make the biggest difference, whether that be good or bad. It allowed for even the smallest of pebbles to make the biggest splash, and it is because of that ability that people who want to make change flock to the internet like a moth to the flame. For once in human history, even the most insignificant person can cause significant changes. It is a tool like no other before.
The World Wild Web Is The Last Frontier For Criminals, Cowboys, and Cavaliers Alike
The World Wild Web is no different than the Wild Wild West, where you have every type of person ranging the entire spectrum of personalities communicating and interacting together in a realm where there is little law or rules to follow, where ideas of right and wrong are blurred together or even take form in that it doesn’t matter because it’s online. This allows for people to lose the inhibitions, to act as they would naturally while not being confined or worries over cultural stigmas. This absolute freedom certainly has its benefits, but it also has its disadvantages. But in the end that is the beauty of the internet. The only thing that is known for certain is that in order to safely be online, you need to be aware that there are certain evils online and you should protect yourself however possible. Sadly, there are countless areas where protection online is needed, but not necessarily understood by many. But that’s the nature of the beast, our beast of burden, our beast of destruction.
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The author of this article is Damien S. Wilhelmi. If you enjoyed this piece you can follow me on Twitter @JakabokBotch. Security online should be important to anyone who has access to the internet, and speaking with a Security Consulting company is of paramount importance for any business. If you are looking for an expert and quality Security Consulting firm, please visit Elert.com.