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Argh! Hackers! Argh!

It may be that the bloke in the corner that dresses in black and looks bored during lessons wants to kill you all. It may be, somewhat more likely, that he thinks you're all blowhard conformists, despises the slavish adoration given to a person who can run with a ball regardless of whether or not said person is capable of stringing together a coherent sentence, and is actually utterly bored.

Never one to learn from the folly of singling out those who are "different", the Liverpool Echo in association with some youth charity looking to make a name for itself (obviously), published a list of ways to tell if your stroppy teenager is a "hacker".

Let's take a look, shall we?

  • They spend most of their free time alone with their computer
    My mother will attest that not only was it true way back when, but I'm forty-mumble years old and it's still true.

  • They have few real friends, but talk extensively to online friends about computers
    Uhhh... Calendar's on the right... ☺

  • Teachers say the child has a keen interest in computers, almost to the exclusion of all other subjects
    Yup. Well, maybe. The real Computer Studies teacher and I got on well. He was hardcore. The replacement taught "Information Technology" (say that in the gayest voice you can and you'll be only halfway there). We got to learn what a "database" was, after the previous teacher got those of us smart enough to write a database. From scratch. In BASIC. And it had to work.
    I stopped going to lessons. Taught myself ARM code and "managed" the school Econet instead. I was SYST. I don't think the IT teacher ever cottoned on. Twat.

  • They're online so much it affects their sleeping habits
    Oh rubbish, it's only ten in the morning in Tokyo... Wait... what timezone am I in? Does it matter?

  • They use the language of hacking, with terms such as "DdoS" (pronounced D-dos), Dossing, pwnd, Doxing, Bots, Botnets, Cracking, Hash (refers to a type of encryption rather than cannabis), Keylogger, Lulz, Phishing, Spoof or Spoofing. Members of the Anonymous Hacktivist group refer to their attacks as "Ops"
    Yeah, this is seriously what it says. Thing is, sometimes computer-related expressions can be used outside of such contexts. I've used "lulz" on this blog before. I've talked about going into "standby mode" (sleeping), and if I was still at school I'm quite sure my homework would be 404.
    As for actual real "hackers" of the type they are mentioning, I somehow doubt they would use words like "keylogger" and "phishing". I wouldn't. I'd come up with my own terminology to use with friends that can be said in open channels without being obvious what we're talking about.

  • They refer to themselves and their friends as hackers or script kiddies
    Two big fails there. I was a hacker and I still am. Pretty much the first thing I do with a new bit of kit is disrobe it. See how it works. Probe its ports. This is hacking. We need to move away from the stereotypical definition of "used a computer so is screwing with people's bank accounts" and understand that the quest for knowledge and understanding is not something to be frightened of. Sure, I could have opened any number of intensely boring textbooks and learned about the actions of N channel silicon and the precise movements of electrons that makes electronic devices do what they do. I'm sure there's even a complicated description of how cheap electronic (musical) keyboards can have their circuits "bent" and why those weird noises occur, but the explanations are nothing compared to actually doing it.
    The second big fail? They completely failed to understand that "script kiddie" is a perjorative. Nobody worthy of anything other than ridicule would actually refer to themselves as a "script kiddie".

  • They have multiple social media profiles on one platform
    I probably would if I didn't think social media was a crock. My idea of "social media" is a BBS. As in old-school ANSI. None of this spying stuff.
    The other day we went to Laval, and Google Maps wanted to ask me some questions about the places I'd been, like "Does Grand Frais have toilet facilities?". It listed the shops in order of visit.
    Am I the only one that finds this creepy? I don't mind answering questions on local things if I can pick stuff I know about, rather than be presented with a list of my movements.
    I do have a Facebook profile. It's the one people at work know. They think that's my on-line presence, ho ho ho. I check it, oh, I dunno, every third month. Maybe. Facebook dutifully sends me messages when people post stuff. My usual response to that is a quick swipe to the left (deletes the message). Somebody posted a comment on somebody else's photo. Not even "meh-worthy".
    Yes, I'm aware of the irony of writing that on a blog... but on the other hand either you choose to be here, or this is mindless curiosity reading my incoherent blatherings after you googled for "chick with huge tits" and ended up here because Google's search algorithm is nothing like as good as it was a decade ago...

  • They have multiple email addresses
    So do I. I have several on Yahoo! alone. There's the general one you see above. There's one I use when I want to remain incognito. There are a bunch of "disposable" addresses (each unique, so I can see if a company is selling info without getting permission first). This isn't counting my private "friends only" email, the one that comes with Orange (lets me know if I have missed calls on the landline), the other one I set up with Orange (if you leave a comment, a notification is sent to that address), and the others here and there.
    Only a fool has one email address. Because if that service goes down, you're S.O.L.

  • They have an odd-sounding nickname (famous ones include MafiaBoy and CyberZeist)
    All nicknames sound odd. Because "nicks" are chosen to provide an identity separate from the real identity. Think about it - this disassociation of identity is not necessarily a bad thing. It can give people an avenue to express themselves. They don't need to worry about "don't listen to him, he's the weirdo dweeb" and instead because the real identity is obscured, people will listen - or not - based upon what he says and how he thinks, rather then preconceived notions of who that person is. This, right here, is why Google's quest for "real names" is a failure. Sure, there are loads of trolls that hide behind the anonymity, but then, there are quite a few people who would choose not to speak without said anonymity.

  • Their computer has a web browser called ToR (The Onion Router) which is used to access hacking forums on the dark web
    I don't TOR, but I'll tell you what, if I lived in the UK or the US, I would if only as a protest against the utter destruction of everything relating to privacy. Look, it's simple. If you think I'm a bad person up to no good, go find a judge you've bought off and get a rubberstamped warrant to snoop at my communications.
    Don't do it simply because you can. B*stards.

  • Monitoring tools you've put on the computer might suddenly stop working
    Thankfully my parents were never going to do stuff like that, basically because of a lack of know-how. That said, if they had then I would have made it my mission to remove them. There's no such thing as benign spyware. A package that will let a parent examine activity? Fine. And who else can see that information? If it is my activity being monitored, who authorises it? Sure as hell won't have been me. If a parent, exactly what did they authorise?
    It might even have come to it that I would source myself a cheap disposable phone for sending and receiving messages "off the radar". Maybe a hand-me-down from a friend of a friend or the like. There are always options.
    If/when I have a child, I would not dump spyware on the phone. I would hope to have a relationship with said child where I could just ask - and if anything seemed weird, they'd ask me and trust my opinion over playground chatter.

  • They can connect to the wifi of nearby houses (especially concerning if they have no legitimate reason to have the password)
    Sorry. If my daughter did that then she'd get a total bollocking if she was connecting to an open AP and not using a VPN. But if she had cracked the encryption of a nearby house (WEP or WPS) to grant herself access... I'd be impressed. And I'd ask if it was for the sake of doing it, or if their network connection was faster...

  • They claim to be making money from online computer games (many hackers get started by trying to break computer games in order to exploit flaws in the game. They will then sell these "cheats" online)
    My electricity you're using, where's my cut?
    Hey, I broke computer games too once upon a day. And to be honest staring at a disassembly was a damn sight more interesting than most of the games ever were. As you can see, breaking games doesn't lead to hard drugs and a life as a mafia henchman.

  • They might know more than they should about parents and siblings, not being able to resist hacking your email or social media
    It's a sad sad day when children need to hack email to know stuff about their people they are directly related to. Maybe, just maybe, there's something quite telling in this sentence.

  • Your internet connection slows or goes off, as their hacker rivals try to take them down
    Gee, and there I'd thought the connection would slow as she'd be ripping off movies...
    If rivals try to take her down: second bollocking. Don't be an ass and use the home IP for that sort of rubbish. That's what neighbour's WiFi is for...

  • Some circumstantial evidence suggests children with autism and Asperger's could be more vulnerable to becoming hackers
    Some circumstantial evidence could say some very nasty things about Liverpudlians. Just Google for Liverpool jokes and then extrapolate what you find to apply to the entire populace. That's not a whole lot different to what this idiotic check list of instructions is doing.


But, of course, there's no Brexit news to scream about today, Trump didn't say anything dumber than usual, and nobody in the England pays any attention to Mr. Juncker, therefore... fear your children (if they're different).


Network hacking... it isn't my fault if other people use rubbish security. Maybe hacking that will help her to understand why her own network needs to be secure. I would hope to raise her to know that hacking soft targets (no military, companies, banks, etc) and making a verification is sufficient. Damaging things or destroying data is absolutely forbidden.
As for my permissiveness... would I rather have a smart daughter who understands the dangers, or one who will drool as she chooses to install an app that wants to access her contacts list and be able to send/receive text messages, examine system log files...
If you look at what is going on on-line today, the sickening truth is that - yes - pretty much everybody is out to get you. You are not a person, you are not a customer. You are an entity to be profiled by every data grab imaginable (the above Google Maps example is why I rarely have my phone's Location turned on) with who knows what sort of conclusions drawn, for information to be collected, collated, and sold. The more we are encouraged to spew our every waking thought into the annals of the Internet, the more refined the profile can be (which means kerching). I would raise my daughter to be aware of this. To be aware of encryption technologies, how to use them, and to make reasonable judgements regarding what is and is not "safe". Our digital trail is long lasting, pervasive, and practically impossible to erase. There are some "right to be forgotten" ideas, but there's no forgetting, it's more an omission from a search engine. The original information is still there, it's just a little bit harder to find.
Maybe it'll be her teaching these evil nasty horrible we-must-fear-them script kiddies?



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