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Re: Boycott O'Reilly

by BUU (Prior)
on Jan 22, 2004 at 06:48 UTC ( #323103=note: print w/replies, xml ) Need Help??

in reply to Boycott O'Reilly

Lets boycott the internet as well because there is 'hacking related' material on it. Lets boycott the library because they have books on chemicals. Lets boycott colleges because they teach chemistry. Etcetera.

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Re: Re: Boycott O'Reilly
by Wassercrats on Jan 22, 2004 at 06:52 UTC
    I'd do all of that, depending on the nature of "hacking related" and the others you mentioned, if there were convenient alternatives. And maybe even if there weren't.

      Any good security consultant, police officer, government agent or member of the military will tell you, in order to defend yourself from theats you must understand two things; the attacker and the mode of attack. People who work in the security field train themselves to think like their "foes", so they can anticipate their moves. It only makes sense, how can you defend yourself if you dont know whats threating you? Stupidity and rampant fear results, after all mankind's greatest fear is the fear of the unknown (to sorta quote H.P. Lovecraft).

      Also any encryption expert worth his salt will tell you that a closed system/algorithm is far less secure than an open system/algorithm. Most cryptographers spend as much time writing algorithms as they do trying to break them.

      A book about hacking, no matter who publishes it, is just like any other bit of information. It can be used for good,.. and it can be used for evil. There is little doubt in my mind that this book was published with the "know your attacker" thought in mind, rather than "Learn to crack the IRS DBase in 24 hours".

      This information is all valuable, and since information itself is an abstract concept and not a concious entity with a moral capacity of its own, its all about how you use it.

      Think a bit before you post.


        I don't think the belief that such a book causes more good than harm has anymore basis in fact than my belief. In fact, I believe it has less. Someone, several responses back made a good point about open source/Perl people being more liberal about these things. That's to be expected from them, but there are two sides to the story.

        Now that we got passed the "it teaches bad guys/it teaches good guys" stage, lets look at this in some more detail. It's probably true that anti-hacker/cracker/whatever organizations publish stuff that could be used for illegal activity, but you have to compare their audience with that of the book. I won't pretend to know the difference for sure, but there surely is one. The organizations have more reason to be careful about who gets their information (though that's difficult) and to be careful about what information they provide. The book publishers want to sell books.

        If such material wasn't published at all, by well meaning organizations or elsewhere, what would happen? Only those with enough brains to learn programming, without being given any security related tips or code, would be able to write new computer cracking software (and protection). Is that good or bad? For crackers, it would create a roadblock. For real programmers, they would have had to learn to program anyway, so it's not as bad.

        Several posts back, I think someone said that there is actual code in the book I'm complaining about that could be used for cracking. That means the book removes a roadblock for hackers who want to do harm, and it removes only a smaller roadblock for the good guys. I haven't heard about any code it contains that's meant to prevent cracking.

        I guess those anti-hacker organizations are good, but the government also wants to prevent computer break-ins, with even more urgency because their focus is on national security. I don't know what they say about books like these, but I know something about the USA Patriot Act and how the government feels about encryption, and I bet they would be on my side.

        God bless America.

      Let's compare this philosophy to a guiding principle of mine.
      Those with more information are better equipped than those with less information.

      You seem to disagree, as if somehow some books should not be published, or should not be available to the public, and that if you had other options than them, you would use them instead, avoid said books. Okay -- you're saying that you'd intentionally remove information that you could use, because you have some sort of ethical problem with...what? Reading it? Other people knowing it?

      There's no way for you to control the latter.

      Regardless, let's move to another guiding principle of mine.

      People, on the whole, left to their own devices, will choose to do constructive things rather than destructive things.
      You seem to believe otherwise. You seem to think that one destructive act somehow outweighes thousands of constructive ones. I honestly don't think humankind could get anywhere without creating and producing being a better choice than destroying and nonproduction. We'd be living in caves. We'd be afraid of our shadows, and everyone else.

      Which, I suppose, we are to a degree -- but the degree to which we, as a whole, produce and create is greater.

      Believing these two things convinces me that there should be books about hackers, books with the word 'hackers' on the cover, etc., just as there should be books about terrorists, books about terrorism, etc. Not because of some notional concept of "harm" or "protection" or because I wish to see society fall -- it's because "harm" is irrelevant, the harm of not being informed is greater than any harm anyone can do me -- it's because "protection" is something I grant a nonsentient being, and I am sentient, and I don't need to be coddled -- it's because society requires information to proceed.

      You say this is harmful, and you are, by everything I've ever believed in, wrong. That would be my well-informed opinion, in terms of being well-informed about what I believe.

      Information causes action. Action, on the whole, is positive. Tell me why I should want to prevent X good things for less-than-X bad things.

      You are what you think.

        Your argument sounds very philosophical. I hate philosophy. Applying a given set of beliefs to whatever problem comes your way simplifies things, but I prefer custom made problem solving. But it doesn't surprise me to hear a philosophical argument here because I see philosophy as being related to psychology, which I've heard alot of programmers are into. I hate psychology too.

        Information causes action. Action, on the whole, is positive. Tell me why I should want to prevent X good things for less-than-X bad things.

        Since there are no such things as units of goodness or badness, it depends on the quality of the good and bad things, not just the quantity, but generally, you shouldn't want to prevent X good things in order to prevent less-than-X bad things. I'm not certain whether books like the one I'm complaining about would help more good guys than bad, but some forms of helping good guys aren't as important as preventing helping bad guys.

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