Myth Of The Fat Hacker

Posted by Viktoria Michaelis on January 14, 2017 in Internet |

I think it was the Donald who claimed that there is – or is not, hard to keep up – a fat hacker sitting somewhere in Russia who concentrates on disrupting things. Sometimes this fat hacker is good, when he or she hacks other people, sometimes bad. Either way, the hacker is clearly fat, because he or she spends all their time sitting in front of a computer, gaining access to different websites and mail accounts and sending the results either to WikiLeaks (good for the big D) or the press (bad for the big D).

I have great difficulty following some of these ideas. That the hacker is fat really throws me; is this a sort of body-shaming attack to try to draw this person out? Challenge their ego by calling them fat, or lazy, stupid or under-educated? It might work with some criminals – according to many TV shows – but in real life? Perhaps these people are as intelligent as Doctor Sheldon Cooper, and equally insensitive to sarcasm or personal insults. And are the hackers really sitting somewhere in Russia? I get to see about thirty attempts to breach this website every single day, either by a forced attack or attempting to log in with a guessed-at name and password (no, I dumped admin right at the start and, really, who uses test as an administrator’s name these days?). Each time I get to see the IP and name of the server being used; sometimes it is France, or Pakistan, or Houston, Texas. I’m sure it would be possible to trace back through these servers and find the origin of these attempts. But I am an ordinary person, no specialist. That’s a job for the professionals, when they’re not bickering about authority or defending themselves against their future boss – or past boss, or potential boss, or one or both political parties. Do they even have time to do their work?

Hack Attack

Photo Source: Jared Tarbell – Creative Commons

Aside from the WikiLeaks rubbish – a mass of paperwork hacked which told us nothing useful and contained, as far as I can see, nothing along the lines of a smoking gun whatsoever – most attempts to gain access to a site are either to use it as a forwarding post for commercial purposes, or to gain data stored on the server, for commercial purposes. Everyone is out to make money, very few are in it for transparency or Freedom of Information reasons, not even WikiLeaks. They want to earn, and that can mean taking information out and sharing it – where all these addresses for spam mails come from – or putting stuff on and claiming money to take it off again.

Ransom is the new way to make money, with so many insecure servers around the world, and so much depending on a site which functions, or on a site which contains all the company information there is. A small piece of code which blocks the site, or which threatens to destroy its contents, and a complete multi-national concern could be at the mercy of that fat hacker – who is probably not fat, and not in Russia. Although, breaking and entering for the information contained is still quite popular, even for married couples in Italy!

There is no one fat hacker, and there is no one country which is responsible for hacking across the board. They come from all walks of life and all countries. They have different ideals and plans, mostly to do with making money, sometimes with a more political agenda. But if we concentrate on this idea of the fat Russian, we’re going to lose our way. Rather, we ought to concentrate on ensuring that our servers are secure – or as secure as is possible – and taking the malicious hackers out of service through judicial means. Prevention as much as anything, and then systems in place which trace and obliterate. Words are all fine and good, but action speaks louder.

  • Viktoria Michaelis.

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  • Francois Demers says:

    This should come from France

  • Francois Demers says:

    This should come from Ukraine

  • Francois Demers says:

    And now France

  • Francois Demers says:

    While I am actually in France.

    A simple http tunnel, available of just about any server. Very difficult to trace back without access to the datacentre where the server is physically located. I could be in Nigeria in a few minutes but it would not add much to my credibility (I do have a server there too).

    Cybercrime thrives on the victim not going to the authorities. No large concern wants their clients or shareholder to know how easily they were hacked and how much they spent to get rid of the ransomware.

    There is something very troubling about your post. The soon-to-be President of the United States seems to know very little about the world he lives in(1) and the technology that makes it tick.

    For the record: Russian hackers make about $50 to $100 a month and tend not to spend much of it on food. The ones I know are lean. (They are also Estonian rather than Russian but Russian will do).

    (1) did anyone else notice?

    • Troubling is that the president-elect seems to know very little about a great deal, and makes this obvious almost every time he opens his mouth or sets fingers and thumbs to Twitter. The commercial side is my main point, I guess: there has to be a commercial reason why anyone would want to hack into a server, or plant a virus on it, or steal data. If it is not a saleable commodity, it is hardly worth the effort. Unless the hacker is being paid by a business or government which, to be honest, I find less likely. It is far easier to put out fake news stories, to fuel conspiracy theories and propaganda which hits the masses than to break into Yahoo! and reveal all the names and addresses stored there. It is also likely that the spreading of falsified information will result in far greater profits and advantages for a foreign government than knowing how to log in to a site and post new photographs. The playing of the markets – as Trump has been doing with his ill-advised Tweets recently – brings far greater advantage.

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