Geek gurus and the art of hacking : LUSENET : Grassroots Information Coordination Center (GICC) : One Thread

Sunday 28 May 2000 Geek gurus and the art of hacking Smeeta Mishra Pandey

NEW DELHI: Hackers can be heroes and hacking can be a much revered art, specially if you are in IIT-D territory. You might call them digital criminals, but on campus, they are demigods, respected by their classmates and juniors and looked upon as potential millionaires.

An accomplished hacker does not walk alone on campus. He is followed by a motley group of wannabe hackers, newbies and scriptkiddies: people who are eager to learn the art from the one who has mastered it.

Most of the ``serious hackers'' have learnt the art from seniors. And one such senior is legend. He is at present said to be counting his millions made in the Silicon Valley. ``He spent years experimenting with software. He abandoned his social life to understand computer systems. He is my role model and I bow before his skills,'' says a junior.

For the IIT hackers, breaking into systems provides a kick akin to smoking or drinking in hostel rooms, hidden from the prying eyes of the warden. But it's not merely about kicks. ``It's got a lot to do with ego,'' explains a well-known hacker. A hacker is a genius and ``defeating the security of a system is a serious and commendable activity. You need to be an expert to do something like this''.

Narrating one such ``mood elevating'' experience, a hacker boasts of his tribe's stint with the Videsh Sanchar Nigam Ltd last year. ``We broke into the VSNL server and changed their welcome message,'' he rhapsodises. ``Instead of the usual welcome to VSNL message, what you got to read was - `Welcome to Rendezvous - the grand IIT festival'.'' The VSNL, of course, hit the ceiling and sent the authorities stinkers. One or two hackers were caught and ticked off too. ``Since then they have firewalled IIT's access to their servers.''

So now the students have developed an unwritten code. ``We rarely hack into the Delhi VSNL server,'' he discloses. ``As we are living in the same city, it would be very easy to trace us. We are targeting the Mumbai VSNL servers. The Delhi VSNL server is left to our brothers at IIT Mumbai.''

And, just what is it that they do with the servers? ``Please do not imagine hacking to be a guessing game of passwords where you enter someone else's account by acquiring his password,'' says a computer science student. ``It's far more sophisticated and involves not only breaking into a system and gaining privileges but modifying the system to avoid detection, by erasing the login time, user name, etc. The secret of expert hacking is to leave no trails.''

Talk to the hackers here and they will convince you that hacking is their fundamental right. ``Our seniors have told us that till the government reduces the surfing rates, it is our right to steal passwords,'' argues a student. ``Internet access is dirt cheap in the US. Why should it cost so much in the land that produces the best software professionals?''

-- Martin Thompson (, May 27, 2000


Beware of geeks bearing gifs.

-- spider (, May 28, 2000.

LOL spider. Good one!

-- (, May 31, 2000.

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