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Hackers and girlfriends

“Want to put a stop to hacking? The solution is simple: Get hackers girlfriends,” says an article in InformationWeek. OK; that’s a simplification, but it is the basic message of the article.

But there’s one problem with this theory: is a serious hacker capable of a serious relationship? The author touches on the problem when he raises the issue of Asperger’s syndrome. There has long been a link between Asperger’s and hacking. Kevin Mitnick once read about the symptoms, and thought, hey, that’s me. Gary McKinnon is a known sufferer.

But the subject of the article, Grainne Kirwan, gets it the wrong way round. “She cautions against trying to reduce the cause of hacking to just a developmental disorder,” says the article. The reality is not that Asperger’s causes hackers, it’s more that hacking is unlikely without Asperger’s.

I was talking to a member of Anonymous recently. We were talking about Jester. “Jester is not a hacker,” I was told. “Jester is a social engineer. He doesn’t have the application necessary to be a serious hacker. He’s not autistic. Most serious Anons are autistic to one degree or another.”

It was the matter of fact way it was delivered that took me by surprise.

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Categories: All, Security Issues
  1. July 23, 2012 at 11:53 am

    I honestly find this hilarious. As a hacker and a full time boyfriend (yes, a hacker with a girlfriend! IMPOSSIBLE!), I find these assumptions of all hackers being lonely young men, likely autistic-spectrum (which I am not), living in basements… Bloody hilarious. Most hackers I have met have had social lives, partners, etc.
    And there is very little difference between “hacker” and computer criminal. I have been on both sides of that fence, and the difference is simply lawbreaking. One can be a hacker without breaking the law. Or, one can be both a hacker and a criminal.
    As for Sabu, I spoke to him a lot. He loved those kids, they meant the world to him and saw him as a father. He saw them as “his kids”. So when they were threatening to take the kids away… Well. Of course he cracked.

  2. July 17, 2012 at 9:49 pm

    Kevin Townsend :
    Still, I suppose if Anonymous were entirely composed of severe autistics, it would be very difficulty for the FBI to turn any new snitches. Perhaps it should be a requirement on the application form for all new crews?

    if it was composed of severe autistics (aspergers is in the autism spectrum but not severe) then i don’t think they’d actually be able to organize into a collective like anonymous in the first place.

    if, on the other hand, they all had aspergergs, it’s entirely possible they’d have girlfriends too. bram cohen, creator of bittorrent, has aspergers and he also has a wife and kids.

    Kevin Townsend :
    From a sociological point of view, is there a difference between a ‘hacker’ and a ‘computer criminal’?

    in the most common (mis)usage of the term “hacker”, i’d say that it’s synonymous with computer criminal. barring such language abuse, however, i think there may still be some common ground between hacking and at least some sociological models of crime, but only on a very abstract level. for instance they could both be considered adaptations that involve deviating from intended/expected behaviour. one violates rules/laws, the other violates expected usage patterns.

  3. July 17, 2012 at 4:25 pm

    wow, what monumental ignorance of hacking, cracking, and other related computer computer misuse. not only have the motivations behind these acts changed considerably since the days when they were just kids in their parents basement with nothing better to do, even back when that was the case there were plenty who had girlfriends and even named some of their creations after them.

    now-a-days money is one of the big motivators, and a girlfriend is likely to INCREASE the demand for that.

    seems like that reporter was talking out of their arse.

    • July 17, 2012 at 5:07 pm

      Hey Kurt, how are you?

      I don’t think we should take this too seriously or literally – but as a generalization I find it quite interesting. There’s always exceptions – I’m thinking of Sabu, for example. Rumours were that the FBI managed to turn him by ‘threatening’ his family.

      Still, I suppose if Anonymous were entirely composed of severe autistics, it would be very difficulty for the FBI to turn any new snitches. Perhaps it should be a requirement on the application form for all new crews?

      From a sociological point of view, is there a difference between a ‘hacker’ and a ‘computer criminal’?

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