Hacking

Hacking

 Introduction
The rise in the use of information and telecommunication technologies (ICT) in our daily lives has led to an increased reliance on virtual networks in conducting ordinary day-to-day tasks as the use of web-based technologies becomes the norm. However, the use of web-based technologies also exposes individuals to risk of attack from cyber criminals that have varied motives in carrying out attacks. The prevalence of ICT has led to the mainstreaming of the term hacking, as cyber security experts and ordinary people worry about the security of personal information as well as the system itself from hacker attacks. Thomas (2002) argues that the term hacker has a double meaning although the popular perception of the word tends to be one-dimensional. Hackers are popularly conceived as persons who are engaged in technological mischief or even criminality by using their knowledge and ability to exploit ICT systems for their own, mostly illegal interests. However, originally, in the tech-savvy community, the term was of the highest approbation, referring to individuals with the ability and imagination to generate clever technical solution through non-conventional means (Coleman, 2010). Due to the notoriety of the hacking incidents exposed by the media, the former meaning of hackers has taken root and there tends to be little understanding of the subtle differences between the different categories of hackers. It is imperative to note that both definitions of a hacker acknowledge that the hacker has superior ability and can manipulate technology to his will giving, an ability that can either be revered or a source of fear. Consequently, there has been a concerted effort by government agencies to criminalize hacking and institute aggressive measures to guard against hacking as well as track and nab hackers (Thaw, 2013).

Gold (2014) analyses the psychology of hackers and claims that hackers can be categorized as ‘white hats’, ‘black hats’ or ‘grey hats’ depending on the motivation in engaging in hacking. White hats are mainly interested in seeking out flaws in the IT infrastructure and systems with the aim of rectifying these flaws for the public good and their work usually collaborated with that of security agencies wittingly or unwittingly. Black hats on the other hand tend to be individuals with psychological disorders like obsessive compulsive disorder, are addicted to the ‘thrill’ of hacking and often use their hacking ability for nefarious purposes. Lastly, the grey hacker or ethical hacker is emerging, and these are individuals that help to check on the resilience of organizations’ defenses by assessing whether the defense can be cracked. Hampson (2012) notes that a new form of protest, which he calls hactivism, has emerged recently as people use the internet to express their displeasure with what may be happening. An appropriate example of this new form of protest was seen after the corporate backlash against WikiLeaks for publishing classified US documents. After WikiLeaks suffering from denial of service (DOS) attacks that made the website unstable as well as expulsion by hosting providers, an online group of hackers emerged who began to attack the corporate entities deemed to oppose WikiLeaks with DOS attacks. Although hacking may be detrimental to the security and privacy of individuals, western democracies have enshrined the right to protest, and there may be need to protect hactivism, which is the non-violent use of illegal or legally ambiguous tools for political ends.

 The Gucci Hack Attack
 The Incident
On 12th November 2010, the Gucci network in America was disrupted massively, leading to loss of access to the network for a period of approximately 24 hours. The network disruption attack led to not only denial of service but also the loss of valuable company data, including documents and emails, both personal and corporate (Liebowitz, 2011). For the 24 hours that the network was down, the company lost all access to any of its documents, and some documents and emails were permanently lost even after the network was restored to full functionality. This is because during the network disruption attack, the hacker deleted the documents and emails leading to the permanent loss of data that was not backed up. Even after the network was restored to functionality by Gucci network administrators, the after effects of the attack lingered on for a considerable amount of time as the administrators tried to repair the damage caused by the hack. The network disruption attack led to Gucci losing a substantial amount of business over the day as customers could not access any of its online stores in the US. In addition, the company lost valuable documents that had taken considerable working hours to prepare.

 Background
Sam Chihlung Yin was an IT expert working for the luxury goods dealer, Gucci, in America as a network administrator for the company’s in-house information system. Yin w 


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