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I am a hacker

A reader from Maine asks:

Are your computer skills such that you could be a hacker if you wanted to
be? I’m just curious.

Gentle reader,

I am a hacker.

The popular press has co-opted the label “hacker”, which was originally a compliment of your high degree of computer skills, to mean a person who uses those skills for evil.1

If you are asking “Could I break into someone’s computer”, the answer is “yes”. There is no magic here. I started my computer career working in computer security at MITRE. And, believe it or not, things have not really changed much since those days. If anything, computer security has gone downhill quite a bit. No one has ever succeeded in commercializing the research we did (to build a secure system from the ground up), instead commercial enterprises have all focussed on selling “barn door” solutions, so called because they are attempts to close the barn door, despite the fact that a lot of (Trojan) horses have already been through…

[1] “Hacker (computing) - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia”

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