Editor's Note: Thoughts on hacktivism

Assistant Editor Crystal Ferraro shares some of the feedback she received when she asked searchSecurity users how they feel about hacktivism.

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In a Nov. 5 Editor's Note, I asked searchSecurity users for their thoughts on hacktivism and whether, as infosec professionals, they differentiate between hacktivists and hackers. I wasn't at all surprised by the responses I received. This is obviously a sensitive topic and one that evokes passionate responses.

SearchSecurity user Nick Campbell said, "There is no difference between hacktivism and a hacker; once a hacker always a hacker... Once you are a hacker you hack for reasons, whatever they are," he said.

User Mark Herdman pointed out that differentiating between hackers and hacktivists is all about perspective. "Just as one person's terrorist is another's freedom fighter, I assume that one person's hacktivist is another's revolutionary."

In the wake of the Sept. 11 terrorism attack, hacktivists on both sides have been fighting a virtual war ? expressing dissent and causing damage to Web sites. Defenders of hacktivism liken it to protests outside of physical storefronts. The opposition compares hacktivism to acts of physical crime. Regardless, hacktivism can result in innocent casualties, especially when businesses are holding on by a string in a delicate economy.

User Howard Plumley, Jr. said, "Ask your 'hacktivists' to explain the difference between burning down the store (arson) and burning down the e-store (viruses). BOTH hurt the business and its customers and employees."

"Hackers, hacktivists, cyberterrorists, ecoterrorists, etc. are nothing more than high-technology criminals and should be treated as such," said searchSecurity user Lindsey V. Maness, Jr. said. "There is no moral or ethical difference between them and punks who go around in the dark, break into a home while the owners are out and trash (or burn down) the place," he said.

The bottom line is this: Both hacktivists and hackers affect the strategies taken by infosec managers to secure their company. And both can have the same devastating results if those strategies are not successful. I hope that you find the resources in this Featured Topic helpful in your pursuit of security.

If you'd like to share your thoughts or discuss some of the ideas in this commentary, visit our .uVIfai74bOG^0@.ee84078!viewtype=&skip=&expand=>anonymous discussion forum. I'll be by to add my two cents, as well.

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