The Legacy of The Hacker Manifesto

I was 11 years young when The Hacker Manifesto was originally published in 1986 (yes, I’m that old). I had no idea about the manifesto at that age but several years later I begin tinkering with my first computer (an Apple IIe) and convinced my parents that I needed a separate phone line for a BBS that ran on a blazing fast 56k modem. I also remember having a massive 20mb external hard drive thinking I would never use that much disk space for a BBS! Only one computer could connect at a time to my BBS…and it was glorious.

This was my first introduction to the world of computers and because the BBS community was fairly small at the time, I was exposed to a new world of Warez (cracked and pirated software) as well as the underground chat of this new culture of anti-authority and how to break software. This led to a lot of discussions about how to make this new technology do things it wasn’t originally designed to do. I was part of those conversations which led me to my first real ethical dilemma. How far is too far before it crosses the line to be something illegal or morally wrong? At that time, there were no rules. Law enforcement barely knew what a computer was let alone had laws around their use. It was the beginning of the golden age of hacking. And I was fortunate to be part of it.

I think The Hacker Manifesto is still important for every hacker and now cybersecurity professional to read and understand how we got here as a industry. The manifesto teaches us about those ethical lines that can be very easy to cross as we navigate a sea of private data at our fingertips. No matter what role you have in this industry, it can be easy to cross that ethical line. The manifesto also tells us that we are all curious and we need to continue to break new technology so that we can better secure it. “Damn kids. They’re all alike.” Still holds true today. Especially with the new generation of hackers entering our industry. We just need to break things in a moral and ethical way.

I was recently interviewed on the wonderful Cyber Empathy Podcast with host Andra Zaharia who graciously allowed me to share my story of those early days but also share my thoughts on how the manifesto still applies in cybersecurity. I also touch on some related topics such as burnout, cybersecurity training, and how to have empathy for new people in our industry. I hope you give it a listen!

1 thought on “The Legacy of The Hacker Manifesto”

  1. Pingback: The Legacy of The Hacker Manifesto – Source: - CISO2CISO.COM & CYBER SECURITY GROUP

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *