From the Discovery Channel.
‘Invasion of the data snatchers,’ screamed a New York Times headline in 1989, reflecting rising panic over insecure computer systems.
A hacker is a brilliantly devious criminal mind breaking the world’s most secret IT systems for money or political espionage, if you believe many similarly hysterical press reports. In fact, the truth is a lot more intriguing.
“The Secret History of Hacking” uncovered the real story of a counter culture that has corporate America on the run.
Confusion and anxiety surrounds this word hacking, yet, according to the Oxford English Dictionary, hacker simply means ‘an enthusiastic computer programmer or user’ or ‘a person who tries to gain unauthorised access to a computer or to data held in one’. There was nothing sinister about these early hackers, or phreakers. The driving force for this band of techno wizards was exploration.
The same spirit was at work with the appearance of the home computer. The pioneers were keen to share and explore the technology for its own sake. Among the most prominent players was Steve Wozniak who went on to develop the Apple computer. Only when the commercial element crept in did the shutters come down on the ownership of ideas.
A strong undercurrent of mischievous daring runs through the hackers’ ethos. Since the sixties, hackers have been breaking into much of the globe’s state-of-the-art electronic systems involving government, military institutions, businesses and individuals. The code was always ‘look but don’t touch’.
But now, as the world becomes ever more entwined with the Internet, some hackers are becoming more sinister, spreading damaging computer viruses and capitalising on access to personal files and millions of bank accounts.
Cast: Kevin Mitnick, Captain Crunch, Steve Wozniak and other hacker / phreak