Hacking is not attacking your friend’s Facebook page that they left logged in on your computer. The hacking subculture is totally removed from the mainstream, a radical anarchy. It is a complex issue that has been converted into popular culture by Hollywood, in films such as The Hacker and Matrix. ‘Hack zines’ like Phrack and 2600 further brought the culture to life.
Mainstream media have also made this issue present in every citizen’s life, most notably the case regarding Julian Assange. Project B – Assange’s code name for a thirty-eight-minute video taken from the cockpit of an Apache military helicopter in Iraq in 2007 (Khatchadourian 2010). The frightening and disturbing film was a military secret and is what brought Assange to fame and gave him a celebrity status in the eyes of Anonymous.
Wikileaks as defined by Khatchadourian (2010) is a site that has published an extensive catalogue of secrete material, ranging form the standard Operating Procedures at Camp Delta, in Guantanamo Bay, and the “Climategate” e-mails from the University of East Angila, in England, to the contents of Sarah Palin’s private Yahoo account. Assange himself calls Wikileaks “an uncensorable system for untraceable mass document leaking and public analysis”. In plain English Assange and his team on Project B were unstoppable and it was only until recently that Assange hit a brick wall. Since June 2012 he has been inside the Ecuadorian embassy in London where he has been granted diplomatic asylum.
Assange has now inspired a new generation of hactivists known as Anonymous. Defined by Wikipedia (2013) – Anonymous is a decentralized virtual community. They are commonly referred to as an Internet based collective of hactivists whose goals, like its organisation are decentralized. All hackers have a similar ethic that is to seek awareness and revolutionism information that ‘should’ be free to everyone. For them hacking is a religion, they live and breath it.
“And then it happened..a door opened to a world..rushing through the phone line like heroin through an addict’s veins, an electronic pulse is sent out, a refuge form the day-to-day incompetencies is sought…a board is found. “this is it..this is where I belong..” – The Mentor – Conscience of a Hacker.
Assange’s new published book Cypherpunks: Freedom and the Future of the Internet rings a justifiable strident alarm bell over the erosion of individual privacy rights and by an increasingly powerful global surveillance industry (Morris 2013). I find this issue extremely important as privacy is becoming redundant in our digital lives. We have information online that will come back to haunt us in the future. Once it’s out there it’s there forever!