I find it funny how this myth of an all powerful “hackers” that can break into any computer anywhere at any time is about as prevalent as the myth of super-spy. Most of us has really no idea of how average CIA agents workday looks like. Few of us actually know undercover agents, or much less know details of their work. So our image of a spy is almost entirely based on Ian Fleming’s or David Morell’s idea of what it means to be a spy.
You have to agree that James Bond, Jack Bauer, Sydney Bristow, and La Femme Nikita are not your ordinary, run of the mill spies. After all, you wouldn’t really think that Die Hard, Dirty Harry or Leathal Weapon are accurate depictions of police work. So why would we assume this for spies?
Same goes for the so called “hackers”. People who have no clue about computer security assume that some people possess mysterious magical skills that let them gain access to any computer in the world by just furiously typing on the keyboard for few minutes. People mistake their own stupidity for awesome hacker skills these days. After all, it does not matter that your OS is unpatched, that you have no firewall, that you have open wifi, that your passwords are weak and that you run easily exploitable services… Nope – it’s that the attacker has awesome 1337 skillz!
But it’s worst when these two myths come together, and you get techno-neophytes claiming that CIA has “hackers” that can do things “I can’t even imagine”. After all, I’m obviously not a “hacker”, and even if I was, I’m not a pro like those people at CIA. Besides – the government does not show their high technology to mere mortals anyway.
How do you argue with that logic? I tried explaining that all the technology we have right now works on pretty much the same basis. I tried to explain that the software written for CIA and Military is not developed by Techno Priests from Mars, or some top secret organization of super-coders but by normal software developers who went to the same schools and took the same classes as us mere mortals. All the software they have is the same type of shitty garbage we deal with on daily basis. Half of it is written by incompetent idiots who got the governmental contract cause their uncle is best buddies with a Senator. The other half is kludgey, buggy shit written in C or C++ ridden by the same buffer overflow issues that plagues most of modern software.
But somehow that just doesn’t register – I’m suspecting it’s because of Clarke’s third law…
Btw, I totally expect you guys to know what movie is that image from. 5 geek points for the first person to name it in the comments. Additional 5 points to anyone who will name a movie which depicts realistic security exploit (the movie that goes with this pic, is obviously not one of them).
Also, before you say something about 1337 “hackers” please see this post.
[tags]hackers, hacking, spies, spy, cia, software, technology[/tags]