Hacking is not an issue we might be directly connected with as it is hardly likely we would be even remotely interested in hacking or in hackers. But yes, hackers could be interested in us, our work, and our business without our knowledge. What then? We hear of viruses being implanted by professional hackers who do it just for some sadistic fun or maybe, to get even with someone. Whatever be the reason for hacking, it has proved to be quite dangerous for innumerable people, destroying years of hard work and even putting to risk a firm’s or country’s security. In such a scenario, what would you make of ‘ethical hacking’ where full fledged hackers break stealthily into systems and websites in order to enhance the security of a company, website or an individual?
Can there ever be something like ‘Legal Hacking?’
The word, ‘hack’ in the dictionary means to ‘use a computer to gain unauthorized access to data.’ So, when the word, ‘unauthorized’ comes in, we realize that the term refers to some action which is illegal. But then, homosexuality for example, was illegal till sometime back and it no longer is. So, does that mean that time determines the value and legality of something? Ankit Fadia wrote a book on Ethical Hacking, the main motive behind it being to show the vulnerability of hi-fi and important government/security websites. Ankit did not just point out loopholes, he also showed ways those loopholes could be closed thus, protecting and maintaining the security. Incidentally, this book was written by him when he was just a boy of 15 years old. It is hard to imagine that a 15 year old brain could have such an intense knowledge of the cyber world. It is said that he has worked for the FBI too to help them track chat transcripts to save important Indian sites from foreign web attackers.
But, does this all justify hacking? A professional hacker would reply in the affirmative. For him/her, hacking is not just a momentary thrill or an illusionary sensation of power (though it is all part of the process). For him/her, hacking is exploring new corners in cyberspace, offering varied solutions, discovering new worlds, something that a non-hacker will not venture out to do. A hacker’s power is his vast knowledge of computer working and the internet. It is in fact a ‘national resource’ which hackers feel firms and government agencies can make good use of to prevent probable dangers like stealing valuable data and selling it off to rival companies or governments.
On the other hand, most of us are more familiar with the stereotype image of hackers who destroy and disrupt normal functioning of business or day to day work. For most of us, nobody, no one has the right to take away or have a look at something that is not theirs. Nobody, however professional a hacker, has the right to know personal details of ours. People who have been affected by hacking will vouch for the illegality of it all. Just as stealing is wrong because it is not permitted, the same rule could apply to hackers too. Is there no other way hackers can make themselves useful? Should they even hack at all? Not every hacker is going to be like Ankit Fadia, working for the system and not against it.
Does the right to information also include the right to gain access into cyberspace without permission, the right to peep into or deface websites and personal accounts that don’t belong to them? Is there something called ‘good hacking’ done entirely for public good?
Would love to know what you think about it all.