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Hacking the Hacker by Roger A. Grimes

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50Hacker Code of Ethics

If you do an Internet search for “hacker ethics,” you are more likely to find a glamorized version of so‐called “hacker rules” that embrace the idea that hackers can do anything they want, even perhaps without limits, in the pursuit of whatever they want. Best‐selling author Steven Levy’s 1984 book, Hackers: Heroes of the Computer Revolution (https://www.amazon.com/Hackers‐Computer‐Revolution‐Steven‐Levy/dp/1449388396/), introduced the world to one of the earliest versions of hacker ethics (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hacker_ethic). In a nutshell, almost word for word, it said the following:

  1. Access to computers should be unlimited and total.
  2. All information should be free.
  3. Mistrust authority—promote decentralization.
  4. Hackers should be judged by their hacking, not criteria such as degrees, age, race, or position.
  5. You can create art and beauty on a computer.
  6. Computers can change your life for the better.

Levy was sharing, not necessarily agreeing with, what many hackers felt about the early days of hacking. Unfortunately, many hackers took Levy’s hacking ethics to mean that the ends justified the means and that even illegal activities were okay. That’s like saying robbing a bank or taking someone else’s property is okay as long as you give it away to change your or someone else’s life for the better. Hacking without a moral compass can lead to unethical situations and illegality. But more than that, it would hurt us all.

Ignoring for the moment that ...

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