In the early 1970s, an engineer named John Draper had noticed that — after a coin was inserted – payphones used a 2600 Hertz tone in order to open a dialing connection. He was friends with a blind man who noticed that Captain Crunch cereal was giving away a toy whistle that created an almost perfect 2600 Hertz tone. John began using this whistle to override the security of payphones, which earned him the nickname of “Captain Crunch”.
Ever since then, Captain Crunch has been regarded as a highly respected pioneer amongst computer hackers. And even today, the number 2600 is still symbolic amongst today’s hackers.
But what’s even more interesting, was his motive for committing these hacks. In a 1971 Esquire Magazine interview, he said the following:
“I don’t do that anymore at all. And if I do it, I do it for one reason and one reason only. I’m learning about a system. The phone company is a System. A computer is a System, do you understand? If I do what I do, it is only to explore a system. Computers, systems, that’s my bag. The phone company is nothing but a computer.”
In his youth, Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak was also an active hacker. He’s claimed that his intrusions were done in the spirit of exploration, and never for profit or malice. Instead, circumventing the controls placed by authority was a way for him to learn about technology.
Ethical hackers will often find a security flaw in a computer network, and then report it to the targeted victims so that they can fix the flaw before anyone else is able to exploit the issue. They are motivated by curiosity, and are careful to avoid hurting their victims.
It’s important to note that, even if you have good intentions, hacking is still dangerous and illegal. However, some companies, such as Microsoft, actually encourage ethical hacking by offering cash prizes for anyone who can locate bugs in their software.
On the other side of the spectrum, you have malicious hackers who target computers and destroy data for the sake of ego and recognition. Sometimes, these attacks are also motivated by politics.
As mentioned in the movie Fight Club, sometimes people just want to destroy something beautiful.
The digital world can be a scary place. That’s why it’s important to make sure you’ve got a good antivirus installed, and also ensure that your data is properly and securely backed up.
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