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Analysis of 250,000 Hacker Conversations 111

Posted by Soulskill
from the strange-predilection-for-pancakes dept.
Orome1 writes "Imperva released a report (PDF) analyzing the content and activities of an online hacker forum with nearly 220,000 registered members, although many are dormant. The forum is used by hackers for training, communications, collaboration, recruitment, commerce and even social interaction. Commercially, this forum serves as a marketplace for selling of stolen data and attack software. The chat rooms are filled with technical subjects ranging from advice on attack planning to solicitations for help with specific campaigns."
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Analysis of 250,000 Hacker Conversations

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  • The word 'hacker' (Score:3, Insightful)

    by telekon (185072) <canweriotnow@gma[ ]com ['il.' in gap]> on Monday October 17, 2011 @06:34PM (#37744832) Homepage Journal

    you're using it wrong.

    • by jhoegl (638955)
      Plus it seems like a cheap, easy way for them to say "Hey, look.... we pay attention to stuff".

      Im not buying what they are selling.
    • Re:The word 'hacker' (Score:5, Informative)

      by ackthpt (218170) on Monday October 17, 2011 @06:53PM (#37744958) Homepage Journal

      you're using it wrong.

      I've pretty much given up on it. You can't blame /., it's the Medi-uh who have tarred Hackers with by association with Crackers and criminals.

      You start explaining the difference between the two to anyone and they'll think you're some kinda weirdo. You're in luck if their eyes simply glaze over rather than they go call DHS and report you as some sort of undesirable.

      • Perhaps it is time for true hackers, in the original non-criminal sense, to come up with a new word to describe themselves.
        I do consider myself a hacker in the original non-criminal use of the word.
        • by Anonymous Coward

          I nominate the word cracker. It's not being used. Well not THAT way.

        • We go by makers now.
        • I propose "slacker"! Just kidding, I started out with this stuff on os-9. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/OS-9/ [wikipedia.org] (actually, before that but that was and has been one of my most favorite OS's of all time) I bet a few remember that OS, it was one of the few at the time that was re-entrant.

          • I remember OS-9 quite well.
            • by tehcyder (746570)

              I remember OS-9 quite well.

              Yes, it's hard to forget. What I remember most is the seamless and elegant way it integrated into mixed Windows and Mac networks. And then broke them.

        • by tehcyder (746570)

          Perhaps it is time for true hackers, in the original non-criminal sense, to come up with a new word to describe themselves. I do consider myself a hacker in the original non-criminal use of the word.

          Tinkerer-nerd? Fiddler-geek? Aspie-mechanic?

      • I think the "Hackers" have did their part in associating "Hackers" with criminals. And don't worry too much people probably think you are a wierdo no matter what subject you are talking about.
    • No, they aren't. (Score:5, Insightful)

      by FoolishOwl (1698506) on Monday October 17, 2011 @07:24PM (#37745174) Journal

      In the first place, the meaning of a word is its use. Using "hacker" to mean people who bypass computer security to steal data or sabotage systems has been the overwhelmingly dominant use of the expression for thirty years, well-established in journalism and entertainment. I've read the essays by RMS and ESR describing the "hacker ethic", and I've read Steven Levy's "Hackers", and those are literally the only places I've ever seen "hacker" used with the positive meaning of unorthodox, enthusiastic, and highly skilled programmers, aside from the occasional references to RMS, ESR, and Levy, to complain about the prevailing usage of the term

      Second, even from those accounts of the early history of programming at MIT, it was clear that "hacker" had an ambiguous meaning, at best. As I recall, Levy describes "hack" as a slang term in general use at MIT, to mean a clever and well-executed prank, such as disassembling a car and reassembling it in the owner's room. The MIT hackers were notorious for ignoring inconvenient rules governing computer access; Levy mentions how many of them took correspondence courses on locksmithing, so they could bypass locked doors.

      • by pgward (2086802)
        The term "hacker" was coined long before computers and had nothing to do with sabotage or bypassing computer security. This is just the meaning it has been given over the past thirty years by journalist and the media at large. The term referred to the activities of people who were curious about the inner workings of devices and not satisfied with assuming a device was functioning to its full potential because a manufacturer told them so. An example of this would be opening up a toaster, seeing a method in
        • Re:No, they aren't. (Score:5, Informative)

          by interval1066 (668936) on Monday October 17, 2011 @08:09PM (#37745514) Homepage Journal

          The term "hacker" was coined long before computers and had nothing to do with sabotage or bypassing computer security.

          Indeed. Unfortunately, the way language works, the popular usage gets dibs. See Oxford's and how they update it every year.

          • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

            by Anonymous Coward

            Just like poor old Mr Decimate. For eons he was 90% of his former self, now he's pretty much destroyed.

        • by pnot (96038)

          The term "hacker" was coined long before computers... The term referred to the activities of people who were curious about the inner workings of devices and not satisfied with assuming a device was functioning to its full potential because a manufacturer told them so.

          Can you show me a usage of the word "hacker" in your sense from before, let's say, 1950?

          Of course you're right that the term "hacker" existed before computers; it's just that the various meanings were related to lumber and agriculture rather than opening toasters, as far as I'm aware.

          I'd be delighted to be corrected, though.

      • by agrif (960591)

        I've read the essays by RMS and ESR describing the "hacker ethic", and I've read Steven Levy's "Hackers", and those are literally the only places I've ever seen "hacker" used with the positive meaning of unorthodox, enthusiastic, and highly skilled programmers, aside from the occasional references to RMS, ESR, and Levy, to complain about the prevailing usage of the term

        The positive definition of the word "hacker" is in wide use in the new DIY community, and I've seen it in Make [makezine.com] and of course BoingBoing [boingboing.net]. It's still in wide use in the subculture that it applies to. Personally I think the media has been getting (slowly) better as well, with the occasional story about hackers that isn't in the negative sense.

        Normally I'm a strong supporter of dynamic language, where words mean what they're accepted to mean; I'm just emotionally attached to this particular word and it's hard t

      • by gl4ss (559668)

        well it used to be that selling phone network cracking devices was an OK way to finance your computer company which sues people who hack their sw to run on white box machines.

        so 30 years ago there was no difference between hacker and a cracker. there still isn't, the context is what makes it "bad" or "good", and even that depends on who the viewer to the situation is.

      • by pyrosine (1787666)
        Jury riggers could be an alternative
      • I've read the essays by RMS and ESR describing the "hacker ethic", and I've read Steven Levy's "Hackers", and those are literally the only places I've ever seen "hacker" used with the positive meaning of unorthodox, enthusiastic, and highly skilled programmers

        You must be new here.

      • by GuB-42 (2483988)
        Maybe the criminal definition of hackers is the norm for most people but /. is "news for nerds". And you can expect nerds to know the other definition, which is still in use today. Also, even in the beginning, hacking was always something clever. So it can be argued that finding vulnerabilities and writing exploits is hacking, but using exploits written by others and sell stolen data is not.
    • by Vellmont (569020) on Monday October 17, 2011 @07:29PM (#37745228)

      Exactly! Words never change meaning, as we all know!

      I'm sure you'll also support my quest against people who use the wrong definition of undertaker (originally meant entrepreneur, not this bastardised meaning of the funeral guy!, and doctor (what as we all know really means teacher, not medical doctor!). I'm always the first to correct people whenever they use the wrong definitions of these words. Long live the originalists!

      • Exactly! Words never change meaning, as we all know!

        I'm sure you'll also support my quest against people who use the wrong definition of undertaker (originally meant entrepreneur, not this bastardised meaning of the funeral guy!, and doctor (what as we all know really means teacher, not medical doctor!). I'm always the first to correct people whenever they use the wrong definitions of these words. Long live the originalists!

        A word of warning - if you talk about "throwing a faggot on the fire", be very careful who's within earshot.

        • Exactly! Words never change meaning, as we all know!

          I'm sure you'll also support my quest against people who use the wrong definition of undertaker (originally meant entrepreneur, not this bastardised meaning of the funeral guy!, and doctor (what as we all know really means teacher, not medical doctor!). I'm always the first to correct people whenever they use the wrong definitions of these words. Long live the originalists!

          A word of warning - if you talk about "throwing a faggot on the fire", be very careful who's within earshot.

          I am sure that would be an aw[e]ful sight to see. It might even be terr[or]ific! Fortunately those who know about spelling might be able to help because they... well, know how to cast the spell (how else could they write!) to fix these things. Now that I cast my mind back, there might be something else relevant there, but I cannot be sure. What's so wrong with being full of awe, anyway? It's not as if going either way is going to make much difference.

        • by tehcyder (746570)

          A word of warning - if you talk about "throwing a faggot on the fire", be very careful who's within earshot.

          I had a couple of faggots for dinner last night. Delicious with mashed potato, gravy and peas.

      • There difference is that there are still numerous professionals who will stand by the old definition of the word "hacker" because it is a common term for them.

        The general public calls plasma "blood". Should we tell the doctors to give up correcting people on this because hey, words change meaning?

        • by Vellmont (569020)


          There difference is that there are still numerous professionals who will stand by the old definition of the word "hacker" because it is a common term for them.

          I'm one of those numerous professionals, and I recognise that the word hacker has multiple meanings, dependant on context. The problem is that the OP was trying to deny a perfectly valid, and widely accepted definition.

          The general public calls plasma "blood".

          It does? That's a new on on me. I've never heard someone call plasma, blood before.

          Should w

        • by tehcyder (746570)

          The general public calls plasma "blood"

          The general public calls the mixture of red stuff that comes out of a joint of meat or a cut on your finger "blood" because that's what it is. Plasma is a colourless liquid constituent of blood.

          Your criticism is like saying that we should call beer "water" because that's what it is mostly made of.

      • Is when you call them a Douche, you know they understand how you truly feel.

    • by pnot (96038) on Monday October 17, 2011 @08:13PM (#37745554)

      I entirely agree: I keep telling people that it means "an implement for hacking, chopping wood, or breaking up earth", as it has done since the 1400s, but there's always some twat whining that it's got something to do with computer programming. Don't these people know that once a word is coined, its meaning is set in stone for eternity?

    • by tehcyder (746570)
      What's wrong with the word "criminal"?

      I realise that we can't use "thief" because these people are just copying electronic information, rather than depriving the original 'owners' of any physical 'property'.
  • You mean hackers get dates there?
    • by ackthpt (218170) on Monday October 17, 2011 @06:47PM (#37744910) Homepage Journal

      You mean hackers get dates there?

      They try .. all those love letters to Darth Vader, Mal and Tom Servo come back unopened...

    • Hackers have been getting dates longer than there have been computers around...

      Go look up hot rodders... They were probably the most sought after hackers for a date in their day.. even today they are still sought after by alot of women..

      • by tehcyder (746570)

        Go look up hot rodders... They were probably the most sought after hackers for a date in their day.. even today they are still sought after by alot of women..

        Yeah, if there's one thing that turns chicks on it's men who are obsessed with cars and customising them for enhanced performance.

        • by Anomalyst (742352)
          Dear Sir, Your ideas intrigue me and I would like to subscribe to your newsletter detailing how to customize a chick for enhanced performance.
  • Little of the communications was about respective pron? As a group, have Hackers become, and it is troubling to say it, but are they, "Settled Down?"

    One sympathizes.
  • Most people on those forums are noob scriptkiddies anyway.

    • by gl4ss (559668)

      the pie chart? it's an advertisement for imperva.

      "Imperva offers award-winning database and application security, reporting and audit solutions for organizations across the globe"

  • by nimbius (983462) on Monday October 17, 2011 @08:03PM (#37745476) Homepage
    security corporations that house their own research "centers" or "divisions" and expect the findings to be taken with any degree of credibility like cern. from tfr, the group basically wrote an egrep script to parse about a month or so of channel logs, then converted their "analysis" into pretty pictures. the pretty pictures are then ginned up with nuggets of knowledge like "Since forums provide a sense of community, they are a natural location for social interaction." and "Hacking has become more and more complicated with several components required to execute attacks". toss in a few buzzwords like lulzsec, and you're done after 14 pages with a very large font. TL;DR: this is produced to be consumed by customers, not technical audiences like slashdot.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    I wonder how all of these conversations were recorded. If it was a 'public' forum, that would be ok.

    If, however, they used false identities, masqueraded as other forum members, or outright tapped the communications going to the servers, then those gathering the information were in violation of several laws. Did they violate the server or forum EULA and TOS? Did they inform those conversing that the conversations were being recorded?

    Is it fine when corporate entities do it for the purpose of profit, and only

  • I would upgrade to Windows 8. This is not good for computers in general.
  • d1D %heY +alk l3ke +h1$??????

    • by Anonymous Coward

      |\|oh 7}{3y |)!|) |\|oh7!

  • Aww, it doesn't look like they analyzed how many of them actually typed in proper English.

  • Most conversations start about a particular tech topic, then quickly diverge into arguments about Monty Python, Apple, Microsoft, Star Trek, The Force, Imagine a Beowulf of those, All your base belong to us, Good luck with that, It's a Trap, What could possibly go wrong, Move out of your parents basement, Yeah right, you have a girlfriend, Get off my lawn, and Dupe!

    • by BenoitRen (998927)

      That sounds more like Slashdot, which I'm sure is the joke. :)

    • by Phrogman (80473)

      Most conversations start about a particular tech topic, then quickly diverge into arguments about Monty Python, Apple, Microsoft, Star Trek, The Force, Imagine a Beowulf of those, All your base belong to us, Good luck with that, It's a Trap, What could possibly go wrong, Move out of your parents basement, Yeah right, you have a girlfriend, Get off my lawn, and Dupe!

      You mean all those conversations were extracted from /.?

    • by Xacid (560407)

      I see you've been here a while. Well done, sir!

    • by tehcyder (746570)
      You forgot Natalie Portman., you insensitive clod!
  • Judging by the user base and the sections listed in the analysis, Hack Forums. Yes, the name is a bit too revealing, but that's the internet for you.

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