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Hacktivism
The 2nd Letter in the series Cyberactions



Especially young people occupy themselves with hacking. On the site http://www.attrition.org/mirror/attrition/index.html researchers have registered 3746 hack actions in the year 1999 and 5823 in the year 2000. The rising importance of hacking  is described in 1999 in an interesting article in the Scientific American.

Actions have often a political background and are directed against sites of organisations which - according to the hackers - propagate wrong ideas. Anyhow the hack of the site of the parliament of Malaysia was wide of the mark. The webmaster discovered the hack only after a few days because nobody ever visited the site. The hack only proved that the webmaster was not very attentive. You can also wonder about the effect of the hack of one of Pakistan's largest website, www.pakgov.org. The hacker left the message: My India is great. It was a retaliation of an attack on www.zeetv.com, a site of an American Indian. In this case the message of the hacker said that the Indian people were losers.

Maybe these activities are the start of an world-wide cyberwar. But only a part of the richer world will be reached and influenced through actions on the net. A third or even half of the people of the world have even never used a phone. Those people will not be influenced by cyberactions.

Other objections against cyberactions could be found on http://www.freespeech.org/resistance/texts/whoever.html but I cannot find the article anymore. http://www.freespeech.org is by the way an interesting site. In this article the writers pointed out that a message on a hacked site must have some meaning for the readers. Hackers are creative when they hack but often morons when they want to transfer their thoughts. And it is of course the intention that readers will remember the text that replaces the original text on the hacked site. But hackers are like graffiti. The picture can be beautiful but passers-by forget the message the moment they lose sight of the ingenious paintings. But I expect that hackers will gain in creativity when they grow older or nicer said that hackers will use their creativity not only in their hack activities but also in the political ideas they bring forward.

Though the amount of hacked sites is growing, nearly only sites that belong to institutions are hacked. Important persons who take decisions are hardly touched by the activity of the hackers. You can compare these activities with a fight between demonstrators and police officers after a demonstration against a doubtful decision of a mayor. Only activists and police officers will be hurt and the decision taker can go on with his work while he regards the troubles from behind the windows of the building of the institution.

Joost van Steenis (January 31 2001)

 

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3. The purpose of an attack
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