Henning Ziegler on Sun, 25 Aug 2002 23:22:08 +0200 (CEST)

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<nettime> 'Hackers', from NMEDIAC, Summer 2002 Issue

[Here's is the beginning of my hacker piece from NMEDIAC, summer 2002.

The Digital Outlaws: Hackers as Imagined Communities

- Henning Ziegler

Introduction: "We love your Computer"

The goal now is not whatever all the analysts first set out to do; the
goal becomes the creation of the system itself. Any ethics or morals or
second thoughts, any questions or muddles or exceptions, all dissolve into
a junky Nike-mind: Just do it. If I just sit here and code, you think, I
can make something run. When the humans come back to talk changes, I can
just run the program. Show them: Here. Look at this. See? This is not just
talk. This runs. Whatever you might say, whatever the consequences, all
you have are words and what I have is this, this thing I've built, this
operational system. Talk all you want, but this thing here: it works. --E.
Ullman, Close to the Machine

Culture is an infinite game.
-J. P. Carse, Finite and Infinite Games

The month was May, the year was 2000, and the loss was one of the largest
amounts of money ever caused by a worm in computer history. On Monday
morning in early May, if you had a Windows system running at work, there
was probably a message with the unsuspecting subject "I love you" in your
Outlook mailbox. The message text read "kindly check the attached love
letter coming from me." High as a kite, you would have opened the mail
(unless you were really sure that nobody would send you a message with
that subject, in which case you probably would have opened the love letter
anyway). But what would have followed your click on the love letter would
have made you rapidly come back down to earth: the attached file
love-letter-for-you.txt.vbs was not a love letter at all, but an internet
worm (worms are these little programs that can self-replicate and spread
through the internet very rapidly, usually via Microsoft Outlook
programs). The "I love you"-virus, as it came to be known, sent itself to
each address in your Windows system address book and dropped an .htm-file
and an mIRC (a internet chat application) script on your computer as
alternative ways for self-replication. So in that week of May, the worm
spread rapidly to millions of Windows users, damaging their systems by
changing file types to .vbs-endings and copying itself each time they
would try to execute one of these 'infected' files. By a love letter that
had turned into a menace to your personal (if digital) belongings, these
users suddenly got acquainted with the dark, the vulnerable, and the
uncanny side of the 'Web:' Computer help lines were busy and people were
just plainly scared. Yes, you had been told by computer security experts
never to give out your private address online since 'stalkers' might hunt
you in real life (ironically, of course, 'spyware' finds out your private
information for other companies). But a love letter turning into an evil
worm on the spot-that had been unheard of.


Henning Ziegler

New article:
The Digital Cowboys - Hackers as Imagined Communities
NMEDIAC Summer 2002

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