Well, I myself have participated in a very well attended debate on whether hackers were a national resource–which is my position–or whether they are pathological scum. I would say to you that it is the media’s fault that hackers are seen in this light. And it is the fault of the US Secret Service, and it is the fault of certain governments around the world who chose to treat hackers as a threat because they didn’t understand hackers; they didn’t understand the electronic environment that that hackers were addressing.
The bottom line is that hackers are the pioneers in this electronic frontier. They are way out in front of the rest of the world. They are seeing the dangers, the vulnerabilities, the shoddy, unethical, inappropriate business behavior by communications and computing companies. They’re basically saying, “Hey, look what we found.” And everyone wants to shoot the messenger. . . .
-Robert Steele. Founder, President and Chief Executive Officer of Open Source Solutions, Inc. (OSS).
Very well said about the mistreat of hackers – that the government controls the media, and such results in, some cases, completely untrue media reports, i.e. the government only tells the story that it wants its people to believe (e.g. Bersih 2.0 news reports). Steele argued that hackers were the one responsible for finding major vulnerabilities in various computer and communications products — Microsoft and Dell as an example. But still, the majority chose to believe that hackers are criminals. Of course, once you have convinced yourself into believing something it is hard to change your own believe later own unless it’s a personal encounter. So are the people today that hold a negative opinion towards hackers, some of them stereotype, some of them, perhaps, need a little push to convince them that there are indeed White Hat hackers around us.
In Sherry Turkle’s book: The Second Self: Computers and the Human Spirit, Turkle stated that the very first of hackers were in fact White Hat-breed, best-of-the-best MIT students that discovered that they are more than just punching cards that a computer could do. Similar to space exploration, hacking is about reaching where no one else has been before, finding new corners in cyberspace, discovering new worlds, and finding different solution.
It is a task that requires courage and creativity.
And that’s why I’m very upset that people don’t understand that hackers are, in fact, a national resource. You can’t create a hacker. Hackers are born; they are very special people. When the Israelis catch a hacker, they give him a job. When the Americans catch a hacker, they kick him in the teeth and throw him in jail. And that’s not good.
– Robert Steele.
Steele, R. (n.d) Are hackers outlaws or watchdogs? PBS Frontline. [Online] Available at: http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/shows/hackers/whoare/outlaws.html [Accessed on: 1st December, 2013]