Lately you have been hearing about a rash of hack attacks that have gone on all throughout the globe. While for years we have gotten used to hearing this kind of news, for a lot of people they are becoming personally affected by it. In the past when you would hear about an attack on some company’s computer then it was pretty much written in stone that the company was responsible for any losses and that the customers that were affected would be reimbursed. But now the attacks are happening to the end users directly. Just about everyone has a computer in their home but not everyone keeps it safe. So now that the individual person has to worry about security they have to take the losses when something goes wrong.
But most of the losses that we see have a financial component to them. Most of the black hat hackers out there are only after money and they tend to focus in that area. But there are some black hat hackers out there that just want to cause destruction and are not worried about money. Some of these people are activists (“hacktivists”) and some of these people are true anarchists. Whatever their reason, they just want to show the world how much destruction that they can really do on the internet. But what happens when they go a step too far? What happens when their pranks truly hurt someone and not just mentally or financially? This is what this article hopes to talk about.
What if the hack is taken to the next level?
Recently there was a report of a hospital that was infiltrated by a hacker. In this case the hacker was not trying to cause damage to the hospital itself but rather create a modest botnet to attack other rival hacker gangs with, including Anonymous. The problem was that he put a backdoor on the HVAC unit which could have caused some of the support systems at the hospital to go offline. Obviously none of the patients died in this case but it is easy to see how that scenario could arise if hackers attacked more sensitive hospital computer equipment. If the world thought that hackers had the power of literal life and death in their hands then they would call for a lot more regulation than they do now.
People already give the average hacker more power than he actually has. If they find out that one of their worst fears have come true then the panic would be incredible. When some hackers have been accused of crimes in the past, some of the potential crimes on the list are in the land of make believe. This includes being able to start World War Three with just the sound of a whistle and other crazy thoughts like that. What people do not know they will imagine and that imagination in their mind soon becomes reality.
The word hacker becomes evil
In the beginning people used to use word the hacker to mean someone who liked to tinker and take items apart. Now because of movies and the news they think of hackers as being someone who is out to destroy the internet. Or at the very least someone who is out to rob money from people over the internet. If they start to believe that these same people had the power to kill over the internet then people who even considered themselves white hat hackers and who would never harm anyone would start to be stigmatized.
That is why it is up to both the hacker community as a whole and the public to educate themselves on the differences between a hacker and what a computer criminal is. And that is what someone who intentionally tried to harm another person over the internet would be. They are a computer criminal. If they harmed anyone through their actions and the actions were purposeful then they should be charged with a crime just like anyone else. But the public should not go crazy just because it was done online. Being done online did not make it worse. It made the action just as wrong as if they were standing right in front of the person.
When you hear about someone stealing credit cards online do not look at it any differently as if someone stole the credit card from out in the street. The person should be punished by sitting in a jail cell. And the same thing can be said for a person who hurts someone physically online. They should have the same punishment. You have to remember that the internet is not magic and an online criminal is just that; a criminal.