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Did a reporter attempt proper definitions for hacker, cracker, script-kiddie?

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  • Did a reporter attempt proper definitions for hacker, cracker, script-kiddie?

    Looks like a yes in a short story that makes a pretty good attempt at defining keywords for general consumption:

    Youth charged after cracking school board database by By Kate Dubinski, QMI Agency.

    Near the end of the article, I see:
    Originally posted by URL
    ABOUT COMPUTER HACKS

    What's a hack?

    - The sophistication required to break into the school board's computer student portals wasn't very high, says technology specialist Shawn Adamsson.

    - Hackers - those who take something meant for one person and use it for another - wouldn't consider the security breach a true "hack," he said.

    So what was it?

    --"It's more black-hat hacking or cracking," Adamsson said.

    Black-hat hackers use their computer abilities for nefarious purposes; crackers try to crack codes to get into websites or computer systems.

    - Of the two levels of "cracks," the one against the school board was the lowest. Whomever did it would be called a "script kiddie" in hacker lingo.

    -- A script kiddie "grabs tools readily available on the web," but doesn't usually write his or her own code or program, ranking them low on the hacker totem pole, Adamsson said.
    This is impressive. Person being interviewed takes the time to try to explain differences between these labels, and a reporter that recognized the importance of the definition of words and then takes the time to report on those definitions.

    It does look like there was either a misunderstanding in what they reporter was told on what "hackers" are, or the reporter was given incorrect information. Based on the other definitions of the other words being closer than the usual story about a computer criminal, I'd guess the reporter just didn't understand that point, or didn't write down what they intended.

    Overall though, I am impressed to see most of the definitions included in the story. Do you think this is a trend? Will we start seeing this kind of thing more often in the world of computer security and reporting about it in the news? I would like to see more of this with industry definitions included in the articles and interviews with the people that are using words with very specific definitions. It really could be helpful in better understanding the news and stories about events in the world.

    What do you think?
    Last edited by TheCotMan; November 1, 2010, 23:52.

  • #2
    Re: Did a reporter attempt proper definitions for hacker, cracker, script-kiddie?

    As to whether we'll see more of this, it's hard to tell. Whenever I encounter a reporter in some official capacity, I always try to use the KISS principle and give a binary of "Hacker = Good", "Cracker = Bad". Most get it instantly, but I don't think I've ever seen it actually used in a story.
    Thorn
    "If you can't be a good example, then you'll just have to be a horrible warning." - Catherine Aird

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    • #3
      Re: Did a reporter attempt proper definitions for hacker, cracker, script-kiddie?

      That's not a bad definition of hacker at all. My only change would be:

      Hackers - those who take something meant for one purpose and use it for another
      45 5F E1 04 22 CA 29 C4 93 3F 95 05 2B 79 2A B0
      45 5F E1 04 22 CA 29 C4 93 3F 95 05 2B 79 2A B1
      [ redacted ]

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      • #4
        Re: Did a reporter attempt proper definitions for hacker, cracker, script-kiddie?

        Originally posted by bascule View Post
        That's not a bad definition of hacker at all. My only change would be:

        Hackers - those who take something meant for one purpose and use it for another
        When I first read that part, your correction is how I first saw it. It may be that it was an editing change or typo and "purpose" was the original version of text.
        "They-Who-Were-Google are no longer alone. Now we are all Google."

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        • #5
          Re: Did a reporter attempt proper definitions for hacker, cracker, script-kiddie?

          Disclosure: I worked at a newspaper one summer in college

          Personally, I think the reporter was either fairly computer literate or had some interest in computers or just found the story interesting. Most of the bad press hackers get is either a reporter is late for meeting/dinner/deadline or the subject is so over their heads their eyes glaze over. I admit it happened to me (I got stuck on the politics beat) and I know there was A LOT of wrong facts because I couldn't understand most of what was going on.

          What I'm REALLY amazed about however, is the fact that the reporters editor, copy editor, et al kept his descriptions in there. That's like a trifecta of awesome luck and good journalism.
          <Insert witty comment here>

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          • #6
            Re: Did a reporter attempt proper definitions for hacker, cracker, script-kiddie?

            Originally posted by bascule View Post
            That's not a bad definition of hacker at all. My only change would be:

            Hackers - those who take something meant for one purpose and use it for another
            Agreed. The definition the reporter was given depicts hackers as thieves, which as well know is not necesarilly the case.
            Its too bad the term 'hacker' carries such a negative connotation, even among security professionals.

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