Hackers changing their ways--sort of

More than 700 self-described hackers, phreakers and crackers attended the Defcon IV annual computer hackers conference in Las Vegas last month.

More than 700 self-described hackers, phreakers and crackers attended the Defcon IV annual computer hackers conference in Las Vegas last month. Attendance was up 55% on last year.

Who are these people? What do they want? For one thing, hackers are getting older. The average age of attendees was 27, up from 20 last year. Females comprised 8% of attendees, up from 1% a year ago.

Hacker motivations ran the gamut. Some crackers say they just love the challenge. Others are electronic pranksters who use a mouse like a spray-paint can, tagging systems to show their prowess. And then there are the Unabomber types who harbour darker resentments. One of the scarier T-shirt slogans: "Practical Unix Terrorist."

So what are their next targets? With a prejudice against anything that makes money for Bill Gates (referred to as The Evil One), hackers have begun serious work finding holes in Windows NT. Meanwhile, Java was called woefully insecure and "a good virus propagation mechanism".

The good news is that security experts say most hacking could be prevented if companies just used the security tools and techniques already available.

(Submitted by Tommy Ward, Digital Pathways (http://www.digpath.com)

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