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The Hacker Paradigm
By Rich Christie <rrchristie@clarityconnect.com>
June 1998


Internet users cringe at the word hacker, and network system administrators put slews of time,
money, and other resources into security against hackers. Laws have been established to
prohibit many of the activities of hackers, and books have been written about them.

Why is hacking so controversial? What is a hacker?  Well, many people fear what they do not
know, they fear to walk on grounds unfamiliar to them. It has been said that you can't actually
understand a hacker unless you are one. Many people base their perceptions of hackers on
what they have been brainwashed to believe.

When I asked a few people of what they think a hacker is, I got several different responses.
Person #1 said that they thought hackers to be criminals looking for ways to gain access into
private monetary funds for financial gain. When I asked person #2, I got the popular response
of  "someone that breaks into computers". Person #3 said something similar to #2, but added
that hackers are extremely intelligent but use their knowledge in the wrong way.

Before I got into the hacker culture for myself, I had also always had a vision of a young
teenager tapping at his keyboard and stealing passwords to get into systems at 3:00 in the morning. The general perception of hacking is that it is a criminal activity that is an immoral and unethical computer underground activity. My first perceptions were no different.  It is not hard to pinpoint exactly why this is the general perception, especially when I asked the same people about where they got this perception. It did not surprise me that they had all gotten their perceptions of hacking
from the news media as I did.

Another common perception of hackers is that they are often anti-social individualists.
Depending on the hacker in question, this may or may not be true. Some hackers do fit this
stereotype - they are quiet, reserved, and introverted. They will rely on their own thoughts,
feelings, and ideas. However, there are also other hackers that are quite sociable and
extroverted.  One of the most astounding things about the hacker culture is the communication
among hackers. Communication and the free flow of ideas is a very predominate element within
the hacker community. BBS (Electronic Bulletin Board Systems), Message Boards, IRC
(Internet Relay Chat) and E-mail (electronic mail ) all provide avenues of communication for
hackers to exchange ideas and information, as well as provide a social forum for them.

I had also asked some self-described hackers about what their perceptions are on hackers. It
was amazingly different. They had all said that they felt that hacking was about learning,
exploring, and discovering. This was not a surprise, as this is the common belief of hackers
about hacking. In fact, it is even in a written code of ethics for the hacker community. One thing
I found that  is strange is that it seems as though hackers also are urged into sharing a common
belief on the subject just as non-hackers are. The perception is of course different, but a thin
layer of conformity lofts above these thoughts as well.

Another popular myth about hackers is that the hacker population is predominantly made up of
adolescent males. This is often the image portrayed throughout the media. However, there
seems to be more and more of an increase in self described female hackers as well. Since
hacking is a relatively new element of society, many of the young adolescent hackers from years
ago are now older and still claim to be hackers in some sense, whether it be a System
Administrator with a hacker background, a Computer Security Expert, or even a programmer.
Perhaps if the stereotype of hackers were to be less restrictive, such as not being all adolescent
males, the hacker community would then gain many more new "hackers" and new perspectives
and thus giving the media another focus.

Among the computer underground culture, there are usually generalizations of classifications of
its members. A hacker is said to be an explorer, a discoverer, and even so much as a person
that can do anything if desired. Crackers, which through media hype are often confused with
hackers, are the ones that actually break into computers and crack passwords. Phreaking is
another popular intellectual sport among the computer underground community, which is
basically manipulating the phone lines in order to make free phone calls, tap/untap telephone
lines, and generally anything having to do with telephony. There are also those people that pirate
software, which is called warez.

The borderline for classifications is extremely fuzzy, it almost seems that one person's perception
of reality is the opposite of another's. There really is no answer to the age old question of "What
is a hacker?". There are many explanations as to what a real hacker is, but it is different in
everyone's own mind and each hacker is the ruler of his own intellectual world, and therefore
he/she sets his own rules.

It has been said by many well respected hackers that the difference between hackers and
criminals is ethics. In many ways, this could very well be true. An ethical hacker, after gaining
root access to a system will often notify the System Administrator of the security flaw, and
possibly give them a patch for the hole as well. The ethical hacker would not trash the system or
alter or destroy any files, with the exception of the logs that could aid in tracing the hacker.
Technically speaking however, the unauthorized intrusion on the system is still illegal, and some
would consider the crime itself unethical.

A typical unethical hacker would quite possibly trash the system and leave it in a very vulnerable
and/or  useless state. It is even possible for one to render a system unusable. Also, an unethical
hacker may also steal proprietary information, financial records, etc.

Quite obviously, there are both ethical and unethical hackers, just as in mainstream society with
all other people. But, it makes one wonder to what extent a hacker really is ethical or unethical.
Perhaps there are not really any clear cut boundaries on what is ethical and what is unethical
other than laws, and the decision is left up to the hacker on which way he/she wishes to go.

In many ways, finding a security hole in someone's computer system and telling them about it
could be considered a positive thing. In fact, there are Computer Security Consultants that
make it a career. Also, finding and patching holes can push technology into a higher level and in
the end can benefit many people. Many, in fact, most hackers, do not notify anyone of the
security hole. This also has a positive and a negative aspect. The positive being that it has a low
chance of getting high exposure and possibility of the hole being exploited. The negative aspect
for both instances is that it is still invading into private property and breaking the law.

It all boils down to what kind of motivations and opportunities the hacker has. If the hacker is
unethical, many times his motivations will be based upon greed, hate, bias, and a destructive
mindset. If the hacker is ethical, then he/she may be motivated by an intellectual challenge,
innovative ingenuity, and the like. The opportunities for hackers to hack depends heavily upon
their own skills and abilities, as well as the targeted system's own deficiencies. The line between
ethical and unethical hacking is a thin one, one which many do not dare to walk on.

There are some who say that there is no such thing as an ethical hacker, just as there are those
that claim that there is no such thing as an unethical hacker. Of course, it is usually hackers that
claim that they are ethical and do not do anything wrong, and in fact, do a service for their
targets as well as themselves. The opposing argument usually will come from Computer Security
Experts, Computer System Administrators, or the average user who is not very familiar with
what hacking is and assume that it is just people that will somehow damage their computer.

This itself is quite an odd contradiction because in the "real world" many of the widely acclaimed
hackers are, or come to be, in the same position as those that oppose them. For instance,
statistics show that many young hackers become Network System Administrators and
Computer Security Experts, because they use their hard learned knowledge and put it to use as
a career. Keep in mind that a Computer Security Expert's job is to test computer security
systems by breaking into them and keeping a log of heir vulnerabilities, and then patching them.
Also be aware that one of the primary duties of most Network System Administrators is to
secure their system, as a computer Security Expert would. Technically speaking, this is hacking.
It is doing the same exact things that a hacker would, but a hacker does this for free using their
own time, energy, intelligence, and resources. What is the difference? Perhaps the hacker wants
the intellectual thrill or maybe the hacker wishes to use his knowledge as power to feed his ego.
Another possibility is that he wants to be malicious and act out his frustration and anger, or
wants to be recognized as a "elite" hacker and be known for his innovative security hole patch.
Despite the motives, the actual technical skills are often the same. It makes one wonder if it is
the ethics that separate a hacker from a criminal, or his motives. Who is to say that a Computer
Security Expert can not have ulterior motives and seeking the confidential information for his
own personal use, rather than to benefit his employer. Embezzlement scams, intentional security
holes, and illegal espionage are all possibilities with either hackers or computer security
experts/system administrators alike.

It is important to remember that not all acclaimed hackers live by a strong code of ethics. There
are some who will not think twice about corrupting a computer, pirating software, spreading a
virus, or any other malicious activity. Perhaps this is the master link in the chain of what makes a
hacker a genuine hacker, or just an extremely knowledgeable computer enthusiast with a desire
to penetrate systems.

It is also the belief of some hackers that their technical skills alone are what will make or will not
make someone a hacker, while many other hackers believe that their ethics, motivations, and
then their technical skills are what make them a true hacker. However, the term "true hacker"
has a different meaning to all.

For instance, it is a common perception among non-hackers that hacking is an exceptionally
difficult thing to do, especially not getting caught, and that you must be a genius in order to be a
hacker. On the contrary, many hackers have a large ego about their technical skills and claim
that it is not as difficult as people make it out to be and that they can do it quite easily, and thus
feeding into their ego. Regardless of what is said by either hackers or non hackers, there is a
high degree of knowledge that one must obtain in order to be a computer hacker. It is also
important to keep in mind that even though hackers are obviously advanced users, it is both
impossible and impractical to know everything about every computer system. After all, many
hackers claim that they hack to learn, explore, and discover, and there would be no need to
hack if they had already learned everything about computers.

Some of the main technical elements that hackers must know is operating systems (especially
networked operating systems) such as UNIX and its variants (Linux, FreeBSD, SunOs, and
many more),  Windows NT,  and Novell, as well as Windows, DOS, MAC, etc. Networking is
also an essential element to know, since it is the means by which a hacker is able to connect
remotely to another computer. Networking protocols, especially TCP/IP (Transfer Control
Protocol / Internet Protocol) as well as many others such as UUCP (UNIX to UNIX
Communication Program), PPP (Point-to-Point Protocol), as well as many others are important
to have a basic understanding of. Known security "bugs" also called exploits are also important
to know, especially when testing a computer system's security.

Programming is also considered to be a very important aspect of hacking by some hackers. In
some cases, hacking a system can be done without the use of programming, but not always. It
has also been stated by many self described hackers that any one who wants to be considered a
hacker by other hackers must learn to program. After all, some of the very first hackers did not
penetrate system security at all, they were on large mainframes learning to program and
exploring the system. Many years later two of these first hackers created a programming
language called BASIC (Beginners All-Purpose Symbolic Instruction Code) and then began to
write operating systems and other computer related developments. These two hackers
incorporated their business and called it the Microsoft Corporation.

Computer programming can range from fairly easy to extremely difficult. Some of the
programming languages that hackers usually learn are BASIC, C, C++, Assembly, among
others. Most programmers (and hackers) will commonly start out with slightly simpler languages
such as BASIC (QBASIC, QuickBASIC, Liberty BASIC, and Visual BASIC) etc., and move
on to the more difficult ones such as Pascal, C/C++, FORTRAN, and Assembly.

BASIC is a fairly easy programming language to learn and get the programming theory needed
for more difficult programming languages. There are many variables in BASIC however, but all
are quite similar. For instance, QBASIC and Quick BASIC are similar in code, but Quick
Basic has some enhanced features, can compile executable programs (while QBASIC will only
run on other computers that also have the Basic compilers on them, etc.) and is sold as a
commercial product as opposed to Basic which comes free with MS-DOS and Windows 3.x
computers. Quick BASIC and QBASIC both create DOS applications, as opposed to Visual
BASIC and Liberty BASIC which create Windows applications. Some people believe that
learning a BASIC programming language is extremely beneficial to help get the programming
theory and background to move on to other languages, and to create your own simple and
efficient programs. On the other hand, others see BASIC as a waste of time as there is not
really any money to be made by programming in a BASIC language and it is too simple to
create powerful applications.

The C and C++ languages can be used for almost any kind of program, and are not very easy
nor very difficult to learn. They are considered fairly standard, efficient, and practical. UNIX
was written in C (or at least large portions of it are), and with the importance of UNIX knowing
C would be very beneficial. Assembly is usually considered to be a difficult, often impractical for
most applications, tedious, and boring language to learn. It is however, a very powerful
programming language and can take control of the complete system, unlike other programs
written in say, Visual BASIC. Most viruses are written in Assembly language, because of it's
power. The code is rather difficult to learn and requires quite a large amount of code to perform
an action in a program. Some other common languages used by hackers are PERL, Python, and
shell scripts.

There are many reasons a hacker would need to know how to program. Many times, a hacker
will need to write a program that will perform a certain action that the hacker just can not do,
such as "Scanning" (also called "War Dialing") phone numbers to find connected computers,
delete entry/access logs, capture passwords, etc. Programming also gives hackers an inner
perspective on computers that they would not normally have otherwise, and hackers need to
understand things about computers that the average user would not need to know, one method
of  learning this is by programming and understanding programming theory.

Programming also gives the hacker the freedom of being able to express creativity and write
programs that would not normally be written by the more "orthodox" and "mainstream"
programmers, which assists hackers a lot because they do not normally use the "orthodox" and
"mainstream" programs or methods of using them.

One aspect of hacking is basically the testing of other programs and systems for security holes.
Programming skills would enable the hacker to be able to patch the security hole, and better the
product. As you can see, hacking is not always about breaking into systems, it is also about
finding and fixing bugs which is where good programming skills are required.

Since hackers have a very strong bonded culture among themselves, programming also comes
in very useful to write programs to distribute for free. As I will discuss more of later, Linux is a
popular free program written by and for hackers and programmers. Other distributed programs
written by hackers are usually password cracking programs, etc. It is a common belief that
many hackers are anti-big business and anti-commercial, so many times hackers will also write a
program similar to a commercial product and distribute it as freeware as a slam against
commercial greed. The programs used in "War Dialing", "Port Scanning", password cracking
programs, and other tools that hackers use are programmed by them or by other hackers and
are almost always freely distributed and downloadable. SATAN is one of the most popular
network security programs written for UNIX (and it's clones) by two computer security
experts. SATAN, which stands for System Administrators Tool for Analyzing Networks is pre-
programmed to seek out known security flaws in networks and then reports them and provides
a way to patch  the security hole back to the person running the program. Obviously, this could
be a very dangerous program if it was to be used by someone with malicious or unethical
motives, and yet at the same time it can be one of the most valuable programs to assist in
protecting a network. Of course, this program is free and is available for download off of the
World Wide Web <http://www.fish.com/satan>. There are numerous other programs, exploits,
and tutorials on a variety of many hacker subjects, and almost all of these are free of charge. It
is merely a part of the standard hacker culture. In fact, the few times when a commercial
"hacker product" comes out onto the market, it will not do well due to boycotting and attacks. It
is against the traditional hacker ethic to charge for information, as a main focus of many hackers
is to make all information free and unrestricted.

One of the best examples of this is the free operating system called Linux. Linux is a UNIX
variant that is an alternative to Windows 95. Linux is completely free of charge (though there are
some cases where a software company will distribute Linux on a CD, provide tech support, etc.
for a very small price) with the source code included which is the very same code it was
programmed in. This teaches its users how an operating system works from the ground up.
There are many distributions of Linux, but it is standard that they will include compilers (the
programs that transfer the programming code you type in into programs) for C/C++, Assembly,
and many others including shell scripting tools. Some even include BASIC. Also with the CD
distributed versions, many applications are available such as word processing software, web
browsers (Redhat, one of the most popular Linux distributions has a deal with Netscape to
include the latest version of Netscape Navigator and Netscape Communicator for free), and
many other features found on standard PC operating systems. Besides the development tools
included, another one of the main attractions to Linux is its networking abilities. Since Linux is a
UNIX variant, it can be used as a UNIX work station, a network server, and much, much
more. Some Internet Service Providers even use Linux as a server. Linux was developed by
many volunteer hackers and programmers under the leadership of Linus Torvalds, a Finnish
student who started it as a college project because most of his work was done on UNIX, but
the cost and maintenance of  a UNIX system can be astounding, so he and his followers set out
to develop a free UNIX clone, as they did. This is a perfect example of why many hackers learn
to program, as well as what some of them can do with their skills. Now Linux is one of the
fastest growing operating systems in the world, and it has been said that approximately 4% of all
computer users are now using Linux.

On the other hand, not all "hackers" do such things as write operating systems that can rival with
Windows 95 and distribute them for free. Instead they distribute another program for "free".
This program- a virus.

Many hackers disassociate themselves with those that call themselves "hackers" that write and
spread viruses. They view this as being destructive and disrespectful to computers. Many
computer users fear viruses,  as they believe that they can destroy their system. Though there
are occurrences of viruses destroying files and systems, the latest virus detection and removal
programs should be able to kill the virus, especially if it is a well known virus. There are people
that spread viruses, but it is becoming less and less likely for them to be a serious danger. Many
"white hat hackers" believe that computer systems should be created, progressed, and
respected - not destroyed. Many white hat hackers will write anti virus detection and protection
programs instead of creating and spreading viruses, yet when they claim themselves to be a
hacker they are not thanked but instead are ostracized for being a hacker.

Those who write viruses are not usually considered hackers by other hackers, but for some
reason are generally considered hackers by outsiders. The reason for writing a virus lies within
the programmer. However, some believe that people write viruses to destroy other people's
computers for some reason, while other believe that as odd as it sounds there may be a point to
writing viruses.

One use for a virus to learn an exceptional amount of information about low level programming
language. As I stated, most viruses are written in Assembly language. Keeping in mind that
Assembly is a low level ("close" to the central processing unit "CPU") language and is
considered to be fairly difficult, it teaches the programmers things about computers that many
others do not know. Assembly is the lowest level programming language with the exception of
binary (but no program is actually written in binary as it is only made up of 0's and 1's, but
instead all programs are transferred into binary through their compiler). There have been viruses
written in other languages such as C/C++, but it is quite uncommon and they are not as effective
as one would be if written in Assembly.

For those of you who do not quite understand virus theory, it is fairly simple to understand. To
quote the alt.comp.virus FAQ (frequently asked questions) "A (computer) virus is a program (a
block of executable code) which attaches itself to, overwrites or otherwise replaces another
program in order to reproduce itself without the knowledge of the PC user". Despite contrary
belief, a computer virus does not have to be malicious. Having a virus does not always mean
that your computer is going to crash and be rendered useless, but then again it is by all means
possible that the virus will effect a computer in such ways that it may need to be replaced.
Viruses are nothing but programs, except for their common purpose and function. Anyway, on
with the virus theory. As you read, a virus attaches itself to a program and reproduces.
Reproduction is a fairly unique characteristic among viruses, most (if any) programs do not
reproduce. Note that a virus does not have to be an over-writing virus. The virus is
programmed so that it will seek out a program that it can attach itself to so that it can be run,
then it will begin to infect that file and reproduce. Part A of the program will then be infected by
Part A of the virus, and so forth. It is important to note that some programs will already be
infected when they are executed onto the computer. The program which carries the virus and
installs it onto the computer is called a "dropper". Also be aware that most viruses are hoaxes,
and that plain text (such as e-mail without any attachments) can NOT contain viruses.

Viruses are a very complex subject, but it should be known that viruses are not all malicious and
destructive as many people believe. In fact, anti virus experts write viruses in special labs (these
labs are called "zoos") to test out their anti virus software on different types of viruses, as well as
virus / anti virus technology. Perhaps it is just as a computer security expert hacks into a
computer system and tests certain exploits as an anti virus programmer will write a virus to see if
it can be killed and to see if certain forms of computers are susceptible to that kind of virus.
(Note: "vx" is a term used to describe programmers that write, study, and exchange viruses for
non malicious purposes).

It is a very common perception for people to think that hacking is all about technology. Another
side of hacking that many people commonly overlook is what is called "social engineering" in the
hacker culture. Social engineering is basically a gentle term used by hackers for "conning"
someone.

Some hackers do not consider it hacking, while others say that it is, in a sense, "hacking
people". Social engineering is normally used when other ways of gaining information are
exhausted. It is basically tricking someone into telling you what they know, usually about the
computer's system. A hacker may use social engineering to find out the network dial-in number,
the type of operating system used, and may even try and watch the password being typed in so
that the hacker can use it at a later time. In some instances, social engineering has even been
used to trick the user into giving out his/her password to a hacker posing as a System
Administrator, etc.

Social Engineering is a topic that does not really have a lot of documentation, and it is seldom
actually discussed. Techniques such as these commonly go unnoticed and taken for granted.
Some hackers believe that it is just a tool, while others say that it is an art within an art.

Such an instance occurred in the movie "Hackers", when the main character called a television
station and posed as an employee of the company whose computer had just crashed and he had
forgotten his password. He basically tricked an unknowing employee into giving out the dial in
number, which the hacker then was able to dial and hack the system.

This is another technique that makes one wonder if it is hacking or if it is an unethical way of
obtaining information. On one hand, many hackers believe that it is using their own interpersonal
skills as an alternative to their technical skills. However, other hackers believe that it is in a sense
'cheating' and taking advantage of unsuspecting people and that it is not actually a true hack, but
a lazy cheat. An example of this is in an interview shortly after his conviction, Kevin Mitnick
(convicted of several computer and telecommunications crimes) stated that he had never been
much of a social engineer and had always focused on the technical aspects of hacking. Perhaps
hacking a person's mind system is similar to hacking a computer's system, but may be slightly
more difficult in some circumstances. Social engineering may be a personal hack in contradiction
to a technical hack.

There is also a heated debate on how hackers are handled when arrested and/or convicted. It is
not uncommon for a hacker to be "busted" by several armed intelligence officers, especially
when dealing with high level computer security systems.

Some people strongly disagree with this for many reasons. One of the reasons that computer
hacking is a non violent act as there is no physical attack, no weapons, and no physical injuries.
Another reason being that it is quite common for hackers to be between the ages of 15 and 26
and are not a high risk of danger to the outside society.

from another perspective, some feel that it is necessary for the law enforcement agencies to take
hacking as a very serious and dangerous crime because it could have the power to threaten
national security or damage a company and its profits. There are many corporations that worry
about hackers stealing secret information and secrets and selling them to competitors, as the
government also worries about similar threats.

With such friction between the two beliefs, it is quite prevalent that there should be a happy
medium. Perhaps it may be worth looking into as why hacking is considered wrong by some
and right by others. As I stated, governments believe that hacking is wrong because it threatens
national security and corporations / businesses are against it because they fear that competitors
cold gain their trade secrets. However, there are other members of the population that are
concerned with their computer security as well.

There are some people that have home computers that worry about hackers, or what they
believe to be hackers. This is usually a large waste of time and undue stress that is often
completely unnecessary a large part of the time. These users commonly worry about their
systems being hackers, getting viruses, etc.

For the most part it is very unlikely that a highly skilled hacker will attempt to hack a home
computer. The majority of hackers seek information and the thrill of hacking a secured system,
and a home system will generally not provide either one. For one, information on a home
computer will generally not be if interest, and secondly the home system will not usually provide
a thrill due to its lack of a challenge. Another important thing to remember when dealing with
home systems is that the system must have dial in abilities. In other words, in order for the home
computer to be hacked, it must be able to accept calls from other computers, which is usually
pretty uncommon. Depending on the operating system, modem, configurations, and other
software it may or may not accept dial in access as a server would.

Even though traditional hackers doing traditional hacking is not generally a threat to home
system, there are some causes be to worried if the home system has some form of network
access, such as The Internet. Denial of Service (DoS) attacks are plentiful on The Internet
especially. DoS attacks come in several forms, but they are basically malicious attacks that
range in effectiveness from very severe to nothing but a nuisance. An example of a denial of
service attack would be what is called "e-mailbombing". E-mail bombing is an attack that
basically sends an excessive amount of e-mail messages to a target and continues to loop and
eats away resources such as disk space, memory, etc. There are filters that protects against e-
mailbombs, just as there are programs to sends these "bombs". Another popular DoS attack is
what is called "Winnuke". Winnuke is basically program that exploits a certain bug in Windows
95 TCP/IP connections. The victim computer of the "nuke" will usually have effects such as the
screen turning all blue, disconnection from network, or even as severe as having to reinstall
drivers and reconfigure the TCP/IP connection. There are many, many DoS exploits, but it is
important to remember that not every computer will be susceptible to every DoS attack
because of operating system, configuration, patches, and many other variables. Viruses, which
discussed earlier, are also often considered to be DoS attacks. Information, source code, and
programs used for exploits and patches for exploits can be found on numerous places on The
Internet. A good place for to look is Rootshell <http://www.rootshell.com>. There are also
methods by which "hackers" can eavesdrop upon Internet transactions, such as using credit
cards to purchase items online, but these methods are usually quite rare and many online
businesses that have this feature use a special secured server for these transactions which is said
to be close to impossible to crack through, but many hackers say that it is possible.

There is obviously some need for all computer users to be concerned, but it must also be
remembered that hackers that possess a high level of skill will not usually bother themselves with
such petty systems like those used in homes, and there is almost always a patch (sometimes
called a "Hotfix") for DoS attacks available,  and most, if not all are available for free. For
Windows users, patches are available at Winfiles.com <http://www.winfiles.com>. Perhaps it is
the hackers that find these exploits, the crackers that use them, and hackers that patch them.

With the strong actions taken against hackers, it makes many aspiring or soon to be hackers
wonder if it is really worth it. Many of the young hackers grow into be System Administrators,
Computer Security Consultants, and programmers as well as other computer related career
fields. In general, these careers make a fairly high amount of money and play a crucial role in the
development of computers and technology. However, these perks are usually only available to
hackers that avoid getting into trouble beforehand. It makes one wonder if some of the hacker
activities are really worth the consequences of getting into trouble.

Most, if not all, hacking related crimes are felonies in most states. There are very few employers
that will hire a felon for a trusted position for obvious reasons. This is one of the major
drawbacks that help pursuade people from getting into hacking in the fist place, let alone
continuing on with it for any length of time. However, many hackers believe that their skills are
sharp enough to elude security measures and not get into trouble. This is obviously a risky
adventure to continue on with,  and many wonder whether or not it is worth the chance of
getting into trouble.

In many people's perspective, risking a career, freedom, and their computer equipment is not
worth it for hacking and the possibility of having a felony criminal record. However, many
hackers see what they do as legal and feel very strongly that they should not be persecuted, and
view hacking as learning, exploring, discovering, and creating and therefore not committing a
crime. Perhaps the problem is the interpretation of the laws by different people with different
paradigms. What one person views as a crime, another may view as a service, and vice versa.

Maybe no one can say exactly what a hacker is because it all lies from within the person's mind
that is questioning this. A hacker to one may be a criminal another and an explorer to someone
else. To some, a hacker should be feared while others feel that hackers should be respected. It
could be a possibility that hackers are people too, the same people that walk, sleep, and work
among us. It is a popular belief that labeling and judging people is wrong, and yet, stereotyping a
hacker as either a criminal or an explorer is alright.

Perhaps there is no key to crack the code of what a hacker really is.