Monday, February 3, 2014

Hackers Are People Too

We are hackers and we are proud.
We question and answer, we break and fix, we create and destroy, we attack and defend, we teach and are taught.
We provide value by inspiring others to do the same.
We care about the safety of your data!

Hopefully this article will help enlighten you to what a "hacker" truly is. We want to spread the word and break the negative stereotypes that come with the word and profession.

We'll start off with a couple questions.

1. When you think of a hacker what do you think of?

Some of the most prominent hackers in recent news would be Edward Snowden or Anonymous as well as other nameless groups or people. Most of these people/groups/activities have a negative connotation right? Nothing but a bunch of hi-tech criminals. But then again, most of the news that sells is negative. Who wants to write a story about the 99% of hackers that are doing good work in the local and global economies? Well, since you're here reading this article, it means this newspaper, website, blog, etc... feels that it is just as important.

The first time I actually considered myself a hacker was during my first trip to a “hackercon” (conference) called DerbyCon in Louisville, KY. When I arrived I was blown away at the sheer amount of knowledge and skill that I was surrounded by. I felt like a very small fish in a giant ocean. But I have to tell you, there wasn’t a single person that was too good to talk to me. They would strike up conversations as you walked by, while we were in talks learning, and if they saw you out in a restaurant. They were there to teach just as much as they were there to learn. The security practices and tools that I learned about that weekend not only would help the security of the organization that I work for, but the security of the data of everyone in the community. In those three days I realized that I wanted to work in Information Security and become a good hacker (aka “White hat”).

One thing that really upset me was during DerbyCon a reporter at WDRB in Louisville posted to his Facebook and Twitter account this

“I don’t know how I feel about this--DerbyCon happening at Hyatt downtown. It’s a convention for computer hackers. Sessions include password cracking, hacker war games and a lock picking pavilion. Thoughts?” - Sterling Riggs

This sparked some very hurtful comments from the residents of the city. Such as “The cops should be waiting to arrest anyone upon their arrival. It’s a shame that people have the brains to do stuff like that, but are too lazy to get a real job…” and “Should be outlawed”. We need to stop letting this fear mongering happen and stop participating in it when it does. As a single mom of three, I’ve had a steady job since I was 16 and would rather not go to jail for trying to help others.

Hackers are all around you. Hopefully bettering the company you work for, the hospital you need to visit, the stores you shop at, and the services you use. We’re there, but you don’t realize it because we’re doing our job to protect you and your data. Yes there are a lot of threats out on the internet, but with the bad come a whole lot of good.

An amazing group of hackers is Hackers For Charity (HFC) Hackers for Charity's Food for Work Program feeds hungry children in Africa but also teaches them to grow gardens to become self-sufficient. They have a whole group of volunteers that travel from city to city and attend hacker cons to raise money for this cause through auctions, t-shirts, zombie makeup drives, and more.

An extremely popular con is DEF CON. Located in Las Vegas, Nevada, DEF CON is possibly the largest con in the USA, drawing people from around the world.  In 2010, over 10,000 people attended DEF CON 18. At almost last minute notice project Bloodkode was setup to accept blood donations for a member of the community that had become ill. In the first hour all of the appointments had been filled, and they had to actively turn away donors. Bloodkode has now been expanded and will continue to collect donations at each DEF CON.

2. How many of you would purchase a car for your family that had never gone through crash or safety testing?

Companies of every size and every household should think of their data the same way. Wouldn’t you want to be for certain that your car wouldn’t blow up at the next pothole? Or that it had seatbelts, warning lights, airbags, etc? Well that’s a good analogy that describes why hackers break stuff! We enjoy and most times get paid to try and break into systems or make them do things that they aren’t meant to do. Because if we didn’t someone else would.

3. What questions can we answer for you? About our community, the work we do, or the lives we lead? Maybe you’re interesting in getting into this field of work as well?

#HackersArePeopleToo  <3 @Infosystir