Hacking not just for geeks anymore
By John Simerman
The phreaks still come out after school -- the spindly boys 
with too much time, plenty of brainpower and an appetite for 

More stereotyping.

But the long-chronicled image of the hacker -- the cracker, 
the ego-driven cyber-geek who penetrates, then leaves behind 
a flashy mark like a pubescent Zorro -- has taken a back seat.

Long-chronicled by poor articles like this one. It is incredible
that journalists can create a stereotype that is mostly unfounded,
and later quote it as fact.
In the minds of nervous corporations and government agencies, 
the hacker menace has put on muscle. Some experts are bemused 
at the FBI's arrest Wednesday night of Cloverdale boys accused 
of breaking into a Pentagon computer. They see a throwback.
"Five or six years ago, it was a 16-year-old white male geek 
kid sitting in his room, very bright, very alone because he 
works better with machines than people, and Mom and Dad sit 
home thinking, 'Isn't it wonderful Sonny isn't getting into 
trouble?' " said Patricia Fisher, president of Janus Associates, 
a Connecticut-based computer security firm.
"Now it's more a swarthy, middle-aged guy or gal who really 
knows how to pinpoint the information he wants. He's between 
30 and 50, someone who has been in the intelligence service 
and has done this for a living for his government in the past."
Dismantling of Soviet Union
The change in the hacker demographic is a result, in part, 
of the breakup of the Soviet Union that put some of the country's 
top intelligence people out of work, said security experts. 
It's also due to hardened laws that raise the stakes on 
network break-ins.
The new breed of hacker has many names. He is the "Uebercracker," 
the "Info Assassin," a stealthy computer expert with a specific 
target who goes beyond cookbook methods and random acts of violence. 
He searches for specific trade secrets, is paid to find coveted 
property and leaves no trace, or knocks out a system with 
confounding messages.

These names seem to be exclusive to articles like this.
"It's what you don't know and what you don't hear that worries 
you," said one encryption expert at a Silicon Valley security 
Some younger hacking groups -- the ones who are in it for the 
thrill of the hunt -- insist that members formally agree they 
won't do damaging mischief. If caught, they may be treated 
lighter by law enforcement.
"The prankster may commit serious crime, but he's not in it as 
a member of organized crime trying to shake down a company," 
said Steve Ross, director of security business solutions at 
Deloitte & Touche, the international accounting firm. 
"An awful lot of people who used to be doing some nefarious 
things are now in the computer business."
Young mercenaries
Some of the most successful young hackers now get paid for 
their work by corporations trying to protect networks from 
the Assassin. The Department of Defense, like many agencies, 
has its own Red Team of hackers who try to beat the agency's 
own systems to uncover weaknesses.
Still, the budding and sometimes raging mischievousness that 
typifies the younger hacker remains in force. They still wreak 
havoc -- at computer firms, banks and perhaps also within the 
government's highly guarded computer systems.
Security experts agree that, like always, it takes more time 
than know-how to cause trouble from behind the bedroom door.
"These are kids who want to be cool," said Peter Tippett, 
president of the International Computer Security Association 
in Carlisle, Pa. "Most of them really don't know what 
they're doing."

More stereotyping. Some of these kids do know what they
are doing and are quite proficient at system security.