What is hacking? Of course most people know that "hacking" refers to illegally breaking into computer systems, but there is another, rather different meaning which was around before that one.
A non-illegal hacker is most basically someone who's good with computers. In fact, in the truest sense, a hacker doesn't even need to KNOW much about computers, but simply like them.
So what's the big deal? Well, to really be a hacker, you can't just like and know about computers, you have to spread your knowledge. You see, to be a REAL hacker, you must believe that knowledge is a precious thing, which should be shared with others. There are several so-called "hackers" who know a lot, but prefer to keep their knowledge to themselves, and then brag about it to those who know less. These people are not hackers, but lamers (the opposite of hacker), who are afraid to give knowledge, in case they should become less knowledgeable than other people. They desire "information omnipotence", they want to know more than anyone else.
To all those: Get real. It'll never happen. Try helping other people and being nice for a change.
Have you ever helped another person? If not, try it sometime. Trust me, it's a good feeling.
The sentiment of "spreading the wealth" (with the "wealth" in this case being information) is rare on the Net these days, but there still are people who aren't afraid to risk sharing their hoard to experience the sheer joy that comes from being a teacher to someone. The best hackers love to share their knowledge. And of course, the ones who program love to share their code; That's what open-source is all about. For a text file in this vein, check out Flaming Cow's touching How About Those l33t d00dz?
Well, that about says all I need to say. :) Click here to download The Jargon File 4, which is a hacker's dictionary.
Click here to download The Hacker's Encyclopedia, which is (oddly enough) a hacker's encyclopedia. It's written by Logik Bomb, a Florida-based member of the underground who has been published in Phrack. This is one of the best text files from the underground I've ever seen. It's huge and comprehensive, and Mr. Bomb sounds like he actually knows what he's talking about, besides the fact that he types properly. The H/P scene needs more people like this who actually contribute real knowledge, rather than posing and pretending to know something because they have a website full of port scanners and nukers. (That file is actually the first version of the document... Click here to get version 2.5 and see what changes were made since the first edition.)
I didn't want to include actual information on this page about how to do illegal things, but it didn't seem right to not include a good version of the alt.2600/#hack FAQ here. This file is largely of historical interest now, but it includes a lot of good background information that should help to provide some idea of what cracking is (or was) about. To quote the file's maintainer: "The alt.2600/#hack FAQ started as a FAQ for the IRC channel #hack and was later adopted by the alt.2600 newsgroup. The alt.2600/#hack FAQ now exists as a web document for all of the Internet." This document has gone through a lot of changes in its lifetime, and this version is one of the last versions that I've seen before the file was abolished as a text file. With the laming of both IRC and Usenet thanks to the flood of end-users onto the Internet, this file was terminated as a stand-alone text file, and the concept re-worked as a website. Currently, most of the questions that were once browsable in a separate text file are now available for browsing on www.tech-faq.com, the official website of what was once the alt.2600/#hack FAQ. Although the website is actually pretty good and supplies quite a lot of interesting information, it's always helpful to have a text file around so you're not dependant on a Net connection for your info.
The usual disclaimers about freedom of information and lack of liability apply here. To wit: To have information on hacking/cracking is not illegal, because it's information, just like it's not illegal to have texts on any aspect of law even if they discuss illegal acts, because it all falls under freedom of information. Look, but don't touch. Read about it, but don't actually do it. Furthermore, the first few text files above are about the culture of the hacker scene; They are *not* how-to files explaining how to actually do anything illegal. The only how-to file is the alt.2600/#hack FAQ, and it contains information that is so outdated and well-known that it might as well be cultural rather than instructional by now. Sorry, would-be Mitnicks.
(Incidentally, I recently realized that cracking is dead. If you want to know why, read the rant I wrote on it: Cracking In The 21st Century.)
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