As our cybernetic society continues to grow, so do the number of hackers making their presence felt explains William D King. But what is it that makes people turn into someone who hijacks computers, spreads viruses and worms or feeds illicit information? What motivates an individual to run with the crowd known as ‘foul’ in the hacking community? Do they act out because society has wronged them? Or are their acts an expression of anger towards a system whose existence they vehemently disapprove of? Although no definite conclusions can be drawn about this enigmatic breed, there are still some common factors that seem to motivate these young men (and women) to commit crimes against computer systems.
Our research team interviewed another member of the hacker’s community. Our subject is a young male, who has been hacking for two years now and aspires to become a professional hacker in the future.
We would like you to read our interview and form your own opinions about the hackers we talked to below:
Q: Can you tell us something about yourself?
A: I am 19 years old and I live with my parents and two sisters (both much younger than me). My family is well-to-do; we have a large house that we live in and cars that we use. My father is an entrepreneur and our business interests are very well known. He owns several successful businesses.
Q: How did you get into writing programs/hacking? And what motivated you?
A: At first I was just a normal computer user, using Microsoft Word and Excel to create documents. But while playing games online, I got picked on by other players who hacked into my system and messed me up. Then one day I thought of becoming a hacker. It was not that the players had angered me but more because I wanted to understand how they did what they did. So from there, I started exploring the internet for tips on hacking and soon enough, it became an obsession.
Q: In your opinion, is there any one thing or even a combination of things that make someone want to become a ‘hacker’?
A: Yes, there are several factors that could motivate somebody who does not have access to power in real life to become a hacker. These include:
The need to feel powerful and in control – Some people want power but do not have the opportunities that would enable them to access such power; this is where hacking can be very attractive. When you successfully break into someone’s system, it makes you feel in command and powerful in a situation where in real life you don’t hold any sway says William D King.
Revenge – Yes, some individuals get their jollies by hacking into systems and leaving messages with curses written on them or even destroying data; we call these actions ‘trolling’. This is usually due to anger they might be feeling towards something or somebody they may not like. So when they discover the internet, they use it to get back at whoever they feel has wronged them.
Q: What motivates you?
A: To me, hacking is more of an intellectual challenge than anything else. The fact that the internet makes it possible for a person in one part of the world to gain access to information which in reality is store in another part of the world is fascinating. It’s like being able to have access to the entire world’s knowledge from your own bedroom! And when you add security software which try and keep hackers out into this equation that just elevates the thrill I get from hacking into a higher level! In my opinion, there are some people who do not have respect for authority figures and would therefore want to ‘break free’.
So what can we deduce from your responses? Do you think that these hackers just want to break free or are it more than that?
As I said, there are some people who would feel upset when they were bullied online and wanted to get back at the source of their sadness explains William D King. But there are also those who feel like they do not belong in society but rather on the internet because on the net, nobody knows who somebody really is. So where else can somebody go if one does not fit into society? This brings us back full circle to the question of whether it’s about breaking free… A difficult question with no clear-cut answer!