Ethical Hacking?

Is there such a thing as an ethical hacker? And if so, what makes a hacker ethical?

Some of the most famous hackers and hacking incidents include Julian Assange, Anonymous, News International. These have all been involved in famous hackings in some form, but are they all the same? What makes them different? Are any of them ethical?

Julian Assange is an internationally famous personality and founder of the group Wikileaks. Wikileaks and Julian Assange are famous for gaining secret government information in questionable ways and sharing that information with the people of the world. Wikileaks clams that their goal is “to bring important news and information to the public”. Wikileaks effectively wants to share information that certain departments deem private, but it thinks should be public.

Anonymous is another organisation famous for hacking and protests. Anonymous is a group of hackers with no leader and no formal structure. Some events that have been associated with Anonymous include a ‘raid’ on the website Habbo Hotel, in which after a 2 year old child was refused entry into an Alabama swimming pool for having AIDS, members of anonymous all dressed Habbo avatars the same and blocked the entrance to the virtual pool and claimed that the “Pool’s Closed due to AIDS”. (My SA News, 2008)

Another event related to Anonymous, known on Wikipedia as ‘Operation Didgerdie’ was an attack on the website of the Prime Minister of Australia’s website in which the site was taken down for approximately one hour in response to planned internet censorship by the then Australian Government.

And now we come to the News International phone hacking scandal, in which certain staff at News International, the publishing company of News of the World and other British newspapers, hacked into people’s phones to receive personal information to be used in stories. That was it. They wanted the information to get stories to publish and sell more newspapers.

That’s where we come to the idea of ‘ethical hacking’. What’s the difference between the 3 examples listed above? For me, it lies with the motive of the hacking.

Assange and Wikileaks are involved in hacking of information because they believe that government information should be freely available to the public they were elected to serve.

Anonymous, while more unconventional, create online protests using hacking as ways to combat or raise awareness over issues it deems important.

New International used phone hacking as a way to gain information, to make more stories, to sell more newspapers and to make more money.

The idea of ethics comes down to motives.

Croteau, R, Net users insist ‘racist’ sign a joke, My SA News, viewed 27 September 2013, <http://web.archive.org/web/20080824174022/http://www.mysanantonio.com/news/local_news/Net_users_insist_its_joke.html&gt;.

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Infinite Sunday Markets

I love online shopping. There’s just something great about it. There is so much more to find and to buy, and it seems that I always find something I like.

One of my favourite sites to buy from would have to be Etsy. I just love it because you can find pretty much anything on there, and the great thing is that most of it is homemade from people setting up their little stores online. One of the great things about Etsy is that there is no limit to the amount of people who can set up shop or the amount of things they can sell. Imagine Etsy as some sort of Sunday markets that are all infinite. And that’s the brilliance of it, it’s infinite! And this is all made possible by the amazing thing we call the internet.

As more people move onto the web for their business needs, websites like Etsy grow more and more. According to Justine Smith, in June of 2011 alone, sellers on Etsy sold around $38 million of products. $38 million dollars in one month. I highly doubt that kind of turnover would ever happen at a Sunday markets.

This is where the infinite idea comes in. Because Etsy is not a physical shop, it is not confined to one physical area, or a limited amount of physical shops. It is an online platform allowing for infinite amount of shops, infinite amount of sellers, and infinite amount of buyers.

If you go into Myer to buy your clothes, you are limited to the clothes they decide to sell and you are limited to only the clothes that they can fit in their space. You are limited as a customer to buy only what Myer chooses to sell you. Because Etsy is online, you are only limited by what you can find. While Myer only sells what they deem to be popular, and what they think the majority of people want to buy, people on Etsy are selling to much smaller audiences, but because there are hundreds of thousands of sellers on Etsy, all of their customer base adds up. Up to 25 million online viewers according to Smith actually. So if you ever have a good idea for something you’d like to sell, instead of forking out the money to rent a space and set up a shop or filling your car boot and heading to the Sunday markets, why not set up a seller account on Etsy? It’ll be instant and you won’t be limited. Your business will be infinite.