Today, several hive members were contacted by a major Philadelphia news organization, asking if they could interview us about hacking.
Unfortunately, their idea of hacking has more to do with unattended Facebook accounts than the hacking we do, and we thought it might be a good time to clear up just what hive is, what our hackers do, and what hacking actually means within the hacking community.
Hive is a hackerspace. A hackerspace is not full of people who try to break into your computer, steal your bank account info, or send spam. A hackerspace, or at least THIS hackerspace, is full of people who are trying in very real ways to build, modify, and improve things. Our battle cry is “Make things awesome, make awesome things!” and we take this to heart. Visit the space on a Wednesday night, and you’ll find people who are excited about the things they are creating both in and out of the hive space, from chocolate chess pieces, to amazing pieces of audio equipment, all the way to organs which could save someone’s life.
The common theme here is that these people that define themselves as hackers are not breaking into your computer. Some of us write software, to make things work better. Some of us build things, to make things work better. And some of us screw around just to see what might be possible, or impossible, just to do it. Bottom line, this hacking is positive. What most of the public and the media refers to as hacking, the technical world refers to as cracking, and it rarely is it “as seen on TV.”
So lets hit on a few of the real dangers, and if the media is paying attention, they can feel free to make use of this. Here are a few things that actually endanger your accounts and computer, which the media often refers to as hacking, but which really are not.
1.) Spammers like to send emails that look real, talking about your phone bill, your bank, or a deposit that needs to be made in your account. Often these take you to fake sites. Instead of clicking the links in these emails, call the phone company, bank, or other company that claims to be sending the email and verify it that way. It’s not cracking (or hacking) if you hand over your username and password.
2.) If you use the same password on all your sites, and someone gets that password, they now have access to all of your sites. Likewise, if you use a simple password for your email, and someone gets access to that, it is easy for them to request new passwords for many of your other accounts. Use more difficult, hard to guess passwords (Good password guidelines), and don’t use the same password for all sites. At the very least, use a different password for your email, a different one for your taxes and other financial matters, and a different one for your online accounts at sites like Facebook. It’s not cracking if someone knows your password, or has access to your email, and gets access to your stuff.
3.) Don’t leave your account logged on in an unsafe place. Many accounts get taken simply because someone leaves them logged on in some unsafe place, like a sample machine in a mall store. It’s not cracking if you’re already logged on and walk away.
None of this is hacking. None of this is cracking. It’s poor security, usually because of a lack of understanding of the technology. And you know, that’s understandable. Not everyone is a computer expert or even really a computer beginner, but as long as the media keeps pushing these things as hacking, the public won’t learn. If anyone would like to discuss what this means to Hive76, feel free to e-mail us, or leave a comment below.