Why Cybersecurity is One of the Fastest Growing Tech Fields Today.

The Never Ending Increase of Severe Cyber Attacks.

On May 7, the system of a Southeastern American pipeline was struck by ransomware, a computer virus that encrypts the computer’s entire storage and turns it hostage. The virus’s creator will only allow the users to restore their data upon payment of a (pretty large) amount of money. In this case, it was 75 bitcoins, that is, 4.4 million dollars.

Last week, a group invaded the servers of EA (Electronic Arts), one of the largest game publishers around, and managed to steal about 780 GB of data, including source code and assets of games yet to be launched, such as FIFA 21 and Battlefield 2042.

Not to mention that database breaches are becoming ever more common. Recent large and famous leaked data include information of 500 million Facebook users (April 2021),  2.3 million Indonesian citizens (May 22, 2020), 6.9 million Dutch citizens (March 11, 2020), 220 million Brazilian citizens (January 2021), 250 million support records from Microsoft (January 22, 2020), among many, many others.

We have a problem

For most companies, even tech companies, cybersecurity has always been a secondary matter. Many more investments were made in physical security (such as implementation of security systems in company headquarters) than in securing their servers and terminals.

And that is because hacking wasn’t such a common problem for a long time. It used to be very difficult to manage to learn how to crack open databases and invade server farms. Companies would suffer breaches only when they didn’t take simple measures such as encrypting their databases. The main problems were dealing with software and hardware cracking/jailbreaking, like those that happen to the iPhone (remember GeoHot?), game consoles and PC games.

Now, however, there are thousands of internet forums and groups dedicated to cracking software and doing malicious hacking, everywhere in the world, and those guys even manage to crack especially difficult anti-piracy software, such as the famous Denuvo, in a matter of days. There are reportedly even military hacker armies in some countries, such as Russia, Iran and North Korea.

Better late than never

With the rise of data breaches, many measures came forward in order to try to prevent more of them. On one side, large tech companies started investing in cybersecurity, and some cybersecurity startups and products started to come up left and right, such as Cloudflare, ThreatLocker and VPNs. On the other side, it also caught the attention of governments everywhere, leading to the creation of General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) in the European Union, which then became a model for data protection laws in other countries. So, if getting the bad fame of having your data breached wasn’t enough incentive to invest in cybersecurity, a big enough fine accompanying it probably would be.

So now, of course, every company out there is scrambling to catch on to the hackers and protect their servers, terminals, and whatever kind of software and hardware they have that is connected to the internet – along with measures to prevent other kinds of data breaches, such as break-ins and social engineering (ever watched Mr. Robot?).

However, creating effective cybersecurity is pretty hard.

You see, you can’t major in cyber security awareness, for example, nor do any kind of specialized course focused on it. There may be one or two courses on it during a major in Computer Science, or maybe just a lecture. If you’re lucky, maybe there are graduate programs on it.

Hacking, and by extension cybersecurity, is still more of a craft: you have the masters, and you have the apprentices learning from them. It is a very secretive endeavor, and you have to know your way around the deep web in order to learn more. And that means putting yourself at risk: if those guys can play around with huge tech companies and government databases, they can just as easily find out who you are if you take a step in the wrong direction.

So, cybersecurity is in high demand – but the supply of good white hat hackers is still far from enough. Meanwhile, the black hats are thriving. How do you think this is going to end?

The Hacker’s Manifesto

The Mentor & the Hacker’s Manifesto.

Key background:

In hacking culture, The Hacker’s Manifesto holds a significant place. It overnight changed the world’s perspective of Hackers and heavily impacted media. One of the first articles that kept a philosophical base of hacking culture. 

The Hacker’s Manifesto, also called The conscience of a Hacker, is a small essay written by a computer security hacker, known by his pseudonym The Mentor. The Mentor was later identified to be Loyd Blankenship. The Mentor belonged to the group of hackers, Legion of Doom. This group was considered one of the most potent and proficient hacking groups. Read more articles: 3D Printing Food

The Mentor was among the successors of the groups. He also served as a member of Ecstasy Elite. The Mentor had been active since the 1970s, not only as a hacker, but as a writer of the most popular writing within the hacker’s world.

Publication:

The Hacker’s Manifesto was published on 8th January 1986. The essay was written soon after the arrest of The Mentor. The essay was first published in the ezine Phrack. Phrack is an ezine or online magazine which is specially dedicated to hackers. Phrack is considered one of the most eminent and running ezine.

Since the publication of The Conscience of a Hacker in Phrack, it gained popularity. Today, people can access it on various other websites. It is also found on T-shirts and in films. 

Inspiration for writing:

On being questioned about the inspiration for writing his infamous essay, The Hacker’s Manifesto, the author stated that he had read The Moon is a Harsh Mistress and was impressed by the revolutionary ideas it exuded.

At another public event, The Mentor talked about his motivation to write after his arrest. He said it built ’empathy’ for his fellow friends who have to encounter similar circumstances. Further, after the release of WarGames, the author felt a growing need to change the hackers’ public perception. Hence, the author chose to write The Hacker’s Manifesto. 

Purpose of the essay:

The essay served some essential purposes for the hacking community. The essay aimed to perform the following purposes:

  • Guideline for hacking community:

The Conscience of a Hacker conveys some essential guidelines to the hacking community, especially beginners and those new to the fields. He has schooled his hacking comrades and explained their curiosity and thirst for knowledge.  

  • The ethical basis for hacking:

It also provides an ethical base for hacking and promotes ethical hacking. Such that may assist in the development of new technologies, or discovering beneficial information. 

  • Positive usage of technology:

The essay also claims that the usage of the technology should not exploit or harm others. Instead, it should widen our perspectives and keep the world free. 

Adaptations:

The Hacker’s Manifesto has gained acclaim since its first publication. It is considered a bedrock for the Hacker’s community and describes the philosophies of a Hacker. It grabbed the public eyeballs after its adaptation in various books and movies. 

Initially, it caught media attention in Hackers, a 1995 movie where it was quoted many times. 

The poster of The Hacker’s Manifesto also features in The Social Network, a 2010 movie. The poster was displayed in Mark Zuckerberg’s Harvard room. 

The Mentor has also read his essay at H2K2, a conference held for Hackers in 2002, where he offered more insight into his essay. 

The Conscience of a Hacker also features in the Autobiography of Edward Snowden called Permanent Record