Let us back in September 1983 'Popular Computing' ran an article by Steven Levy on "The Computer Abuser" - this was before hacking had been categorised and criminalised. In those days hackers met openly in bars and considered their activities as "relatively harmless and rollicking good fun to boot." Some even thought that "this kind of infiltration is even necessary to offset what they discern as an alarming centralization of computer power in the hands of The Establishment." There was a feeling of "pulling down electronic Berlin Walls." The writer wanted the other side of the story and so tracked down a recent criminal case where a student served 90 days in the county jail for running up over $7000 worth of telephone calls via a local university network. He got in touch with the campus police. There the sergeant shrugged off suggestions that hacking was hard. "There's nothing to it.
I hardly know how to turn the computer on, but I can manipulate this sucker 5000 ways." He then quickly added, "And there's almost nothing we can do about it!" This hacker was only found out because a relationship with a girl went sour and she snitched on him. The police audited the hacker's activities (not just illegal ones either) and finally swooped on him hoping to catch him red-handed breaking into secret files. He was playing a computer game.
He was actually entitled to use the campus computer to network with others - he just circumvented his time limit, so basically they charged him for excessive time.
Levy also tracked down other student hackers, who talked about ethics, "If you're any good at hacking, there will be some point in your career where you'll break into the system - but you'll also have the ethics not to crash the system or destroy anyone's files." You may think I'm too lenient on hackers. The way I see it, is that system managers are often too laxed on security. In one attempted unauthorised entry here in NZ a hacker calling from the UK tried 30 different passwords to a VAX system before giving up. To me the server should have alerted the sysman after the third attempt. A hacker doesn't break into a computer with an axe. He walks in through an unlocked door. Sure, we should be able to safely leave our front door open - unfortunately Some are like window-shoppers "Neuromancer" by William Gibson seems to have obtained a cult status by hackers. In that novel the anti-hero is a shady character who makes his living by hacking into transnational corporation computers. He then sells the gleaned information to fences who proliferate in the underworld of the have-nots.