Two kinds of hackers

It used to be that hackers wrote intrusive code only to get recognized amongst their peers. Some did it for the sheer joy, while others did it out of generosity – to warn some sys admin of a vulnerability. Unfortunately, our society has forced the altruistic coders into hiding, and little is left to do with system hacks than steal information.

Why do I think this happened? Well some hackers have moved on to open source projects, and others, bumped from the corporate grind, have cranked up their own companies. Yes, these people are hackers. Some of the best software engineers out there pride themselves on the label. Unfortunately, the guys and gals that the security realm could learn something from have been forced from that playing field by our increasingly litigious society. Part of this phenomena stems from fear and mislabeling (“hacker”, that is). And some of it arose from greed (some companies just can’t make it without picking on someone else). Who the hell wants to get sued for telling some big firm they have a hole the size of the I-75 (around downtown Atlanta) in their systems?

So now we are left with bad hackers, ones who write adware for others intent on forcing something on us we don’t really want, and spyware coders, intent on stealing our purchases, our money, and even our very identities.

Yes, the bad guys were always there, and now they are growing fast.

The fine folks at TechDirt clued me in to this in Malware Inc., and you can read the original story over at InternetWeek’s “some action” (and I don’t mean from video games).