Hacker culture is a subculture of individuals who enjoy the intellectual challenge of creatively overcoming the limitations of software systems or electronic hardware to achieve novel and clever results. The act of engaging in activities such as programming or other media in the spirit of fun and exploration is known as hacking. However, the defining characteristic of a hacker is not the activity it performs, but the way it is done and whether it is exciting and meaningful.
Hackers from this subculture tend to distinguish themselves from those they disparagingly refer to as “hackers.” Those individuals, typically referred to by the media and public using the term “hacker,” whose primary focus is on exploiting weaknesses in computer security. Today I will talk in detail about how it was created, how it developed, and what impact it had on society in the end.
The word “hacker” actually comes from the 17th-century term for “an energetic laborer” who doggedly wielded a hoe to harvest the fields. It was not used until the 1960s to describe a skilled computer programmer. MIT, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, is also widely regarded as the birthplace and ancestral home of hacking technology. They were attracted by the computers of the MIT AI Lab and created this culture on their own.(Quora, 2017) These “hacks” initially involve gaining access to restricted areas in clever ways, but without causing any significant damage. But the machines at that time were very large, slow, and cumbersome to use. Even running the simplest calculations required extraordinary efforts to complete. But for today’s programmers, it’s like traveling through the mists of time to explore the origins of computing. The legendary feats of early hackers are made more amazing by the primitive nature of the machines they used and the tools they had at their disposal.
Over time, hacker cultures tend to become more conscious, cohesive, and organized. The concentration of hacker culture paralleled, was partly driven by, and in turn accelerated the commodification of computer and network technology. Today, it is primarily a Unix and TCP/IP phenomenon and is concentrated on various operating systems developed based on free software and open-source software.
Although when it was first founded in the 1960s, hacker culture seemed to have this unimpeded future. But the process it has gone through to develop to today. It is beyond everyone’s imagination. The 1980s were a watershed decade in hacker history, as it marked the introduction of turnkey personal computers to the public. Computers are no longer limited to corporations and prestigious universities, everyone can use them for their own purposes—anything goes. The widespread use of personal computers has led to a rapid increase in the number of hackers. This isn’t the only big change happening in the hacker community. Although there are still many hackers who are mainly interested in maintaining network security and repairing operating systems, a new breed of hackers has emerged who are more concerned with personal gain. The purpose of these hackers is not the same as the former. Instead, they use the Internet as their own criminal means to carry out various criminal attacks that threaten network security, such as developing Trojan viruses to cause network paralysis, or stealing other people’s sensitive information for profit. This has also forced government departments in various countries to quickly enact legislation to temporarily prevent the emergence of many cybercriminals.
But by the 1990s, the reputation of “hackers” suddenly became infamous. Because the number of crimes committed by “cyber criminals” continues to increase, and various media outlets report extensively after these criminals are caught and brought to justice. As a result, the word “hacker” has been tainted like never before. To combat cybercrime, the Secret Service launched a sting investigation. To avoid conviction, members of the hacker community began reporting each other in exchange for immunity. (Power, 2016) By the 2000s, attacks by malicious hackers dominated the headlines. The reputations of hackers who maintain network security are still being tarnished by everyone, prompting the emergence of more dangerous types of hackers. Their goals are no longer simply to paralyze the network and steal sensitive personal information, but to extend their tentacles to governments and well-known companies. Microsoft, eBay, Yahoo, Google, Amazon and other companies have all been attacked by these criminals.
Impact for today’s society
Now that the world has entered the digital age, the hacker community has become more sophisticated than ever. Either to optimize software and maintain network security, or to launch ransomware and network attacks. These anonymous hacker groups took center stage this decade, releasing highly classified documents, exposing government secrets, and leading digital campaigns to police information in the name of protecting the public from harm, exploitation, or withholding. Government entities and major corporations are scrambling to improve security in response to hacktivists and cybercriminals, while computer giants work to tweak their systems. Yet despite the constant recruitment, system upgrades, and technological innovation of cybersecurity experts, hackers—both for good and evil—always stay one step ahead.
Countries should now view hackers as valuable resources. The amount of innovation and global prosperity in the 21st century will be directly proportional to the extent to which we cultivate this resource. Because of their skills, hackers are uniquely positioned to become entrepreneurs and start companies. While not all hackers want to be entrepreneurs, there is a real need for greater access to training and capital in most places around the world. If we could simplify the path from hacker to entrepreneur, the world could unleash tremendous innovation and prosperity. Although there is a huge risk of criminal elements infiltrating in this way, it is still a reliable investment for society. Without the help of these “hackers”, perhaps society would not have entered the digital age so quickly.
In general, hacker culture has experienced many “accidents” along the way. From the initial purpose of providing computer improvement programs, to later malicious criminals carrying out network attacks in the name of “hackers”, resulting in real “hackers” being implicated in bad reputations one after another, and now as anonymous organizations, secretly maintaining network security and computer improvements. These people are destined to be “unsung heroes” for a lifetime. In the future, doubts from the public and threats from criminal organizations will still be what “hackers” need to face. But what remains unchanged is the stable and secure network they bring, as well as more powerful computer programs. The development of the times is inevitable. If old things want to continue to exist in the new era, they must make themselves valuable so as not to be forgotten by the times. At the same time, it is also time for governments of various countries to consider whether to include these “hackers” who are really for social stability.(Contributor, 2012) Not only to further protect national network security, but also to allow them to wash away the grievances caused by criminals. After weighing the pros and cons, what choice will be made?
Quora. (2017, September 7). Where Did Hacker Culture Come From? Forbes. https://www.forbes.com/sites/quora/2017/09/07/where-did-hacker-culture-come-from/?sh=3af11f3d3362
Power, K. (2016, August 17). The Evolution of Hacking | Tripwire. Www.tripwire.com. https://www.tripwire.com/state-of-security/the-evolution-of-hacking
Contributor. (2012, March 25). Hacker Culture: The Key To Future Prosperity? TechCrunch. https://techcrunch.com/2012/03/25/hacker-culture-the-key-to-future-prosperity/
Patrick Foto ;). (2016). Hacker. In flickr.com. https://www.flickr.com/photos/patrick_foto/28136187196/
mightyfinebros. (2021). Cyber Crime Tech. In flickr.com. https://www.flickr.com/photos/mightyfinebros/51631836988/
Blogtrepreneur. (2016). Data Security. In flickr.com. https://www.flickr.com/photos/143601516@N03/29972713206/