Crackers are common criminals By: Andrew Thomas 
   04/07/2000 at 17:47 GMT

   Hackers have a certain romantic image - it's a bit like Robin Hood;
   the small man against the machine; the righter of wrongs, that sort of

   On British TV the other night, a young hacker from Wales was asked why
   he had broken into a computer and downloaded several thousand people's
   bank details. He replied that he had done it to prove that the bank's
   security procedures were inadequate. It should have been obvious that
   he had no criminal intent and naturally hadn't done anything with the
   downloaded details. If he hadn't done it, someone else would have.
   You are a judge. Before you in the court stands a pimply-faced youth
   with greasy hair and an ill-advised vestigial beard. He stands accused
   of breaking into several dozen houses and stealing credit card details
   and address books. The address books were used to identify future
   properties to burgle and, whilst in each house, he burnt all the
   personal correspondence he could find.
   His defence?

   "I only did it to prove that the locks on these people's doors were
   inadequate. If I hadn't done it, someone else would. It's the lock
   makers' fault."

[This is a clearly biased and poor analogy. If the intruder only copied
information, that can not be equated with "identifying future properties
to burgle" or "burning all the personal correspondence". Creating such
grossly inaccurate analogies and asking the readers to judge on it is
unprofessional and unethical.]

   Do you, the judge, dismiss the charges and commend the young chap for
   his public-spiritedness, whilst roundly condemning locksmiths for
   their sloppy workmanship? Or do you sentence him to a public flogging
   and then send him to choky?

   Spinal Tap

   Another housebreaker stands accused of a number of break-ins where he
   stole expensive stereo systems and CD collections. In mitigation, he
   blames Metallica, Napalm Death and Spinal Tap for making him do it.
   The reasoning is obvious - if these bands hadn't recorded unencrypted
   music onto CDs in the first place, he wouldn't have been tempted to
   pop into other people's houses while they were out and remove them.
   And he needed the stereo systems to play them on. And the beer from
   the fridge. And the car to carry it all away in.

   In what way is hacking into a computer any different from breaking
   into a house? Both are private property. Locks on doors are only
   necessary because there are people who can't be bothered to work. They
   would much rather you worked hard to buy things that they could later
   remove while you were out earning more money.

   Faulty locks are not the issue here - criminals are.

   So why is it always Microsoft that gets blamed for making it too easy
   for the criminals? Why aren't Compaq, Dell, IBM, Intel and AMD to
   blame for providing the systems the hackers break into? For that
   matter, why aren't the telcos and ISPs guilty, too? Do we read stories
   about Sony being accused that its TVs and videos are encouraging
   break-ins because you can't bolt them to the floor?

   Of course Microsoft is a very successful company headed up by very
   rich people, so envy is probably a key factor here. But surely
   Microsoft is only exposed to hack attacks to the degree it is because
   millions of people actually like its products and want to use them.
   They don't want functionality removed, they want criminals to leave
   them alone.

   A hack attack on a Word or Outlook user is surely criminal trespass on
   their (electronic) property in exactly the same way it is if a burglar
   breaks into their house. It doesn't matter how easy or hard it is -
   it's still wrong.

   Stop blaming Microsoft - it's the hackers who are the guilty ones. 

[Only if journalists would quit making crappy lame excuses as
to why their 'factual' articles are full of errors. Quit blaming everything
else, blame the unethical and untrained people claiming to be journalists.]