Want to read Slashdot from your mobile device? Point it at m.slashdot.org and keep reading!


Forgot your password?
Security Programming

Author Says It's Time To Stop Glorifying Hackers 479

First time accepted submitter Geste writes "Diane McWhorter pleads in this NYT Op-Ed piece that it's time to stop glorifying hackers. Among other things she rails against providers' tendencies to 'blame the victim' with advice on improved password discipline. Interesting, but what lesson are we to learn from someone who emails lists of passwords to herself?"
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Author Says It's Time To Stop Glorifying Hackers

Comments Filter:
  • Also time to stop (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 10, 2014 @01:21PM (#46446821)

    glorifying actors, sports figures, politicians, generals, soldiers, writers, artists, architects, Canadians, cooks, race car drivers, the old, children, dogs, accountants, spies, computer programmers, cowboys, drug smugglers, and the disabled.

  • by Overzeetop ( 214511 ) on Monday March 10, 2014 @01:23PM (#46446843) Journal

    Note to the press: "Hackers" doesn't mean what you think is means.

  • by coldsalmon ( 946941 ) on Monday March 10, 2014 @01:25PM (#46446863)

    Stop falling for the clickbait, Slashdot.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 10, 2014 @01:27PM (#46446893)

    Next thing you know we'll stop teaching kids to look both ways before crossing the street because we're teaching people not to drive drunk. But this just isn't how the world works.

  • Victim blaming (Score:5, Insightful)

    by LocalH ( 28506 ) on Monday March 10, 2014 @01:27PM (#46446903) Homepage

    Why the hell is there a trend nowadays to call it "victim blaming" to give people advice on protecting themselves? Is it really such a bad idea for people to do things to protect their passwords?

    I guess telling people to run antivirus is now "victim blaming", too.

  • US blame culture. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by JustNiz ( 692889 ) on Monday March 10, 2014 @01:29PM (#46446919)

    So she emailed a list of passwords to herself, didn't bother encrypting it, and kept it in her on-line email account for 9 months, then she's actually surprised when she gets hacked?

    I look forward to the day when America gets back to the point where people start taking responsibility for their own actions again, instead of always looking for someone else to blame (and sue) for their own stupidity.

  • by mwvdlee ( 775178 ) on Monday March 10, 2014 @01:30PM (#46446941) Homepage


    There's a difference between somebody who takes a list of passwords and abuses it and somebody who finds security issues and reports them responsibly.
    There's also a difference between somebody who it a victim and somebody who gmails list of passwords to herself.

    Oblig. car analogy: The person stealing your car is a "criminal", the owner of that car is a "victim". The person bypassing the lock on his own car and then reporting the issue to the car manufacturer is a "hacker". The person keeping a keychain in her unattended car, with keys of all her properties, conveniently labelled what each key is for and where it can be found, is called an "Idiot".

    One does not preclude the other.

  • by nomadic ( 141991 ) <.moc.liamg. .ta. .dlrowcidamon.> on Monday March 10, 2014 @01:37PM (#46447019) Homepage
    The commonly-accepted usage of words is determined by the majority. Whatever "hacker" used to mean, it now means someone who bypasses computer security systems to commit crimes.
  • by lgw ( 121541 ) on Monday March 10, 2014 @01:41PM (#46447073) Journal

    The difference between "idiot" and "at fault" is huge.

    Users will be idiots. Does any IT admin deny this fact? If your system only protects users who aren't idiots, you're a sorry excuse for an admin.

    Make your system robust against weak passwords. This is not rocket science. If it's something important, use two-factor auth. If not, make account recovery easy - put real thought and effort into it! And for goodness sake, make sure your DB of password hashes doesn't become public - that's all in your hands, and it's completely your fault if that happens, weak passwords or strong.

  • by fisted ( 2295862 ) on Monday March 10, 2014 @01:44PM (#46447111)
    Since the "majority" has not a faint idea what hacking is, or was, i refuse letting them assign new meaning to words they dojn't understand.
    IOW your argument is stupid.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 10, 2014 @01:48PM (#46447159)

    Exactly. This ship sailed a long time ago. Time to give it up. The original meaning of "hacker" is dead. If you use it in that sense, you will only be miscommunicating with the vast majority that uses it in the new sense.

    Seriously people. Let it go. Words change. Many of the words you use now meant something else entirely a hundred years ago.

  • Re: Victim blaming (Score:4, Insightful)

    by N1AK ( 864906 ) on Monday March 10, 2014 @01:54PM (#46447235) Homepage
    Careful, I'm not sure you can see over the top of all that hyperbolic. It isn't impossible for most people to hold the view that crime is bad an should be discouraged and that taking moderate steps to moderate your risk of being a victim is sensible; if you haven't already tried it then I'd strongly suggest giving it a go.
  • by Aighearach ( 97333 ) on Monday March 10, 2014 @01:59PM (#46447291) Homepage

    Your system cannot protect the idiots from themselves. That is a trap you fell into somewhere. Most likely you simply agreed it would be nice if it was so. "Yeah, why can't we protect all our users?!"

    This isn't brain science or rocket surgery. The idiots have to have a way to access the system. They will NOT remember strong passwords, they will write them in a stupid place or keep them in gmail with public information as the account recovery. And guess what, you can't control gmail. Put some real thought into it, your idiot users will hand their access away to the first thief, and you can't do much to protect them.

    All you can do is protect your system and try to make anything important difficult enough to access that the idiots can't get in.

  • by Aighearach ( 97333 ) on Monday March 10, 2014 @02:03PM (#46447351) Homepage

    The commonly-accepted usage of words is determined by the majority.

    While I do agree that whatever "hacker" used to mean is called a "maker" now, you're way off on how word meanings are determined.

    It turns out, each word can have multiple meanings, and all the meanings with common published examples are the real meanings! Wow! Blows your mind, right?

    How can nerds expect the world to believe in our vocabulary if we can't even read dictionaries?

  • by jellomizer ( 103300 ) on Monday March 10, 2014 @02:07PM (#46447383)

    Well there is a difference between glorifying people who somewhat try to do positive things with their life, and achieved something from it.

    But Hackers, drug smugglers and much of the other black market activity really shouldn't be glorified. Because for every 1 person who does this for some noble deed there are a thousand stupid kids who do this because they think it is easy money.

  • by DaveV1.0 ( 203135 ) on Monday March 10, 2014 @02:51PM (#46447931) Journal
    I don't think I have seen one comment that "Guccifier" did was wrong. But, there are plenty of posts calling McWhorter an idiot, a pinhead, a shithead, etc. and telling her to shut up and that it is her own fault she was hacked.

    Most comments on here are verbally abusing the victim while completely ignoring the person who compromised her account and posted her personal details on line. And, I am willing to bet that if that happened to any of those posting said comments, the victim would want to kill the perpetrator.
  • by Zero__Kelvin ( 151819 ) on Monday March 10, 2014 @03:00PM (#46448029) Homepage
    It took me a while to notice, but your post is what made me realize that most of the people posting here up until now have no idea what a hacker is.
  • by RabidReindeer ( 2625839 ) on Monday March 10, 2014 @03:19PM (#46448249)

    You could use a password manager like KeePass, LastPass, PasswordSafe, etc. Is there some reason you don't?

    And even if there is, reconsider it. You can keep a password safe database(s) on a thumb drive handcuffed to your wrist if you want to be really paranoid. The databases are encrypted, but if they're physically tethered to you, you'll have to take them with you instead of possibly leaving them unguarded on your desk.

    The idea of making different apps all have different passwords (as opposed to single signon or a password safe/PIN vault under a master password) may sound secure, but nobody's memory is that good, and the resulting post-its, unencrypted spreadshhets, Windows Notepad files or whatever means that in reality, you may be less secure, rather than more secure.

  • by davydagger ( 2566757 ) on Monday March 10, 2014 @09:39PM (#46451597)
    We glorify much worse in society.

    Our top artist, Jay-Z is a man who made a career spanning over a decade rapping about being a criminal(gangsta rapper), and glorying a life soaked in drugs, loose women, and crime.

    On the other hand, we have movies like zero dark thirty which glorify torture.

    We glorify politicians who lie, cheat, and steal, and we encourage eachother to lie cheat and steal for them.

    When a kid is bullied in school they are generally blamed for being weak, socially unfit, or making themselves a target.

    Most celebrities, the people who we all mimick, do drugs, drive under the influence, sleep around, and act without a care for the rest of us. If we admit we don't like them, something is wrong with us. We re-adjust our social values around them.

    We glorify the press and the news, and when they get caught lying to us, often to assassinate someones character for either social or political reasons, strut around as if their position makes them nobility, and violate each and every rule they tell us they abide by with enough regularity its safe to say they don't exist, we extoll them as the saviors of democracy.

    But yes, its hackers. Hackers are making society a terrible place. If computer break ins where any other field besides computers, it would be socially accetable. If you get take advantage of financially, or make a silly mistake, well its proof the capitalists are smarter than you. If the bank takes advantage of your lack of time to fight them, its because they deserve to prey on the weak. If you break into the bank computers because the same smarty pants bankers are to daft to learn your field, your a terrorist.

    Somehow hackers are glorified? Another shitty op-ed from the NY Times, a fine publication with a long history of clueless op-ed writers, and hideously snobbish double standards.

    I've said this before, and I'll say it again, the NYT is a fine publication, but the opinion editorials are run by a bunch of smarmy yuppie shitheads without any real vantage point in society.

"An organization dries up if you don't challenge it with growth." -- Mark Shepherd, former President and CEO of Texas Instruments