There is a community, a shared culture, of expert programmers and networking wizards that traces its history back through decades to the first time-sharing minicomputers and the earliest ARPAnet experiments. The members of this culture first coined the term ‘hacker’. Hackers built the Internet, they made the Unix operating system what it is today and they make the World Wide Web work. If you are part of this culture, if you have contributed to it and other people in it know who you are and call you a hacker, you’re a hacker.The hacker mind-set is not confined to this software-hacking culture. There are people who apply the hacker attitude to other things, like electronics or music — and actually, you can find it at the highest levels of any science or art. Software hackers recognize these kindred spirits elsewhere and may call them ‘hackers’ too, some claim that the hacker nature is really independent of the particular medium the hacker works in. But in the rest of this document we will focus on the skills and attitudes of software hackers, and the traditions of the shared culture that originated the term ‘hacker’.There is another group of people who loudly call themselves hackers, but aren’t. These are people (mainly adolescent males) who get a kick out of breaking into computers and phreaking the phone system. Real hackers call these people ‘crackers’ and want nothing to do with them. Real hackers mostly think these people are lazy, irresponsible, and not very bright, and object that being able to break security doesn’t make you a hacker any more than being able to hotwire cars makes you an automotive engineer. Unfortunately, many journalists and writers have been fooled into using the word ‘hacker’ to describe crackers; this irritates real hackers no end.
The basic difference is this: hackers build things, crackers break them.
Criminals are crackers, not hackers. If someone breaks into your computer in order to steal something, he is a criminal; he’s not a Hacker.
Discover a Hacker’s Mindset
Holman is also an inventor, who harnesses the very same out-of-the-box thinking and irrepressible curiosity that compels him to hack to come up with innovative solutions to some of the world’s more intractable problems. Holman and his colleagues at Intellectual Ventures Labs, founded by former Microsoft CTO Nathan Myhrvold, are now devoting their technological prowess and eclectic minds to intriguing projects: networks of giant, sea-borne rings made from recycled truck tires, that harness wave energy to push the warm surface downward to reduce warm air updrafts that create hurricanes; using hoses borne aloft by helium balloons to spray sulphur dioxide into the upper atmosphere to mimic the effect of volcanic activity in hopes of reversing the retreat of the Arctic ice cap; and a technology to reuse the millions of tons of nuclear waste created by nuclear plants and weapons programes for power generation.
Where non-hackers typically look at a device – a mobile phone, for instance – and understands it in terms of “what does this device do”, the hacker looks at the same device and asks, “What can I make this device do?” Holman believes that this mindset is precisely what is needed to spark innovation and invention. And it is also the mentality needed in the World Economic Forum’s ongoing efforts to rethink, redesign and rebuild.
The Hacking Mindset
A Fixed Audience
What’s the Rush?
The Tortoise or the Hare?
The Hacker Mindset
The Basic Difference Between Hackers and Crackers
” Hackers build things, crackers break them.”
A hacker mindset for success, the accelerated way
Understanding the Hacker Mindset To Minimize the Risk of Becoming a Victim of a Cyber-Attack
Financial institutions need to start by learning about potential attackers and their preferred information targets – and then pinpoint vulnerabilities that could be exploited.
That’s the advice from David Pollino, senior vice president and enterprise fraud prevention officer at Bank of the West, a $69 billion institution based in California. Pollino will be a featured presenter at Information Security Media Group’s Fraud Summit in Los Angeles on Feb. 24.
“You not only need to know your attacker, but also what their tactics are,” Pollino says in an exclusive interview with ISMG. “[Attackers] share information among themselves, and occasionally that information will find its way back to us, so that we can learn from it and modify our tactics accordingly.” Once organizations identify what kind of information hackers have been targeting, they can more accurately pinpoint vulnerabilities that could be exploited, he explains. Another key step, he says, is to share what they’ve learned with peers, law enforcement, regulators – and even those in other industries, Pollino says.
“It is important for us to have a strong external and internal intelligence practice,” he says. “Once we learn things, how do we share that back to the greater community? That’s a key component of intelligence.”
Pollino says understanding the threat landscape, and the unique challenges it poses for an individual organization or institution, is critical.
“Being able to drive for the right outcomes involves knowing what problem you’re trying to solve, or, in some cases, knowing who your enemies are and how they react,” Pollino says. “For us to give the right information to both our internal stakeholders as well as external stakeholders, which include customers, law enforcement and other institutions, we really need to know what action they need to take. And that changes, based on the problem that we’re trying to solve or the enemy that is attacking us.”
During this interview, Pollino also discusses:
- How automation is helping banking institutions more readily share information;
- Why more needs to be done to expand threat intelligence sharing with other industries, such as retail and healthcare; and
- How consistent customer education can help with fraud reduction.
At the upcoming ISMG Fraud Summit LA, Pollino will speak on two topics – customer education and cyberthreat intelligence. Pollino, during a solo presentation, will review steps Bank of the West has taken to enhance cyber-awareness and customer education – a key anti-fraud measure the bank implemented in 2013, after suffering a $900,000 account takeover loss in December 2012 during a distributed-denial-of-service attack. Then, during a panel with Lance James, who heads up cyber intelligence for consultancy Deloitte & Touche, he’ll explore why knowing more about the adversaries that wage cyber-attacks is so critical.
To learn more about the summit, visit the summit registration page.
Pollino has been with Bank of the West since 2011. Previously, he served as manager of online fraud prevention strategy and analytics for Wells Fargo and was the online risk officer for Washington Mutual. Pollino conducts ongoing research on cybercrime techniques.
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