I’ve been inspired in writing this article because for some reason, and for a very long time, discussions and debates about the act of hacking and the people who does it has been all over the place and all over the Internet and I can’t help but express my own opinion on this never-ending debate about hackers as cyber-terrorists. I don’t want to make this article controversial. I will not waste people’s time by telling them things they already know. But I think somehow someone has to speak out about the matter and clarify things for good.
The first time I heard about hackers was when I was around 12. It was also the first time I used a personal computer. I can still remember the brand name printed in front of the CPU chassis, it was Sunstar, running a used to be sleek Microsoft Windows 3.0 operating system. At that time, learning to use a computer running Windows was like learning how to ride a bike for the first time – it’s all nothing but frenzy. Since then, I’ve heard stories of what computers and this exciting technology can do, specially when you connect it to the Internet using a modem. It’s like a whole new world would open right before my eyes in just a click of a button. And since then, my desire to learn more about computers specially on how it works at the background through written codes have always been a personal and exciting quest to me.
So what does “hackers” really mean and who are they? Richard Stallman, the founder of the GNU Project and the President of the Free Software Foundation once said in a documentary, “hackers are people who enjoy playful cleverness; people who love programming, love exploring.” If we would see hackers and hacking through Richard Stallman’s point of view, hacking is simply an act of learning for more deeper knowledge about the craft of programming and computing in general. And the people who does it, within the real essence of the word, are simply people who always thirst for new and better things. And I think there’s nothing gruesome about it. Don’t you think? On the other hand, an English dictionary I’ve read a while ago, cloaked the word hacker with quite a darker meaning, it says, “a hacker is a microcomputer user who attempts to gain unauthorized access to propriety computer systems.” Sounds like defining a thief to me. Although both meanings somehow share their own ounces of truth depending on how we people understand it, I think it’s still best if we folks could give these computer geeks some real proper branding.
Back in the days, hackers are considered heroes. They are one of the dedicated group of computer enthusiasts who had contributed well in pioneering the information technology that we have today, making life easier for us with the help of computers and programs they have created. Unfortunately and sad to say nowadays, and most of us are aware of it, some went their own ways and did something unacceptable against the common society; either for the sake of fame or to gain just about anything that pleases them or to please other people by doing what they do best. They wear the mask of a real hacker but deep inside, they’re as dark as their objectives. These group of people are NOT hackers, but cyber-terrorists.
Although it’s almost impossible to washed away this dilemma about hackers and cyber-terrorists today, because of the things that are happening all around us. Still, I’m hoping that someday, with the proper information dissemination, people would realized that hackers, the purists of hobbyists are good people trying to make a better change for the rest of us who uses computers and programs they create. They are not cyber-criminals like what most people thought. This may be just a wishful thinking just like what my wife told me, but who knows – it could happen.