Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Is your son a HACKER?

Edit: What was I thinking, ignorance to this extend is not possible. After reading it a couple more times, I come to the verdict that this is a prank article. Case dismissed.

As an enlightened, modern parent, I try to be as involved as possible in the
lives of my six children. I encourage them to join team sports. I attend their
teen parties with them to ensure no drinking or alcohol is on the premises. I
keep a fatherly eye on the CDs they listen to and the shows they watch, the
company they keep and the books they read. You could say I'm a model parent. My
children have never failed to make me proud, and I can say without the slightest
embellishment that I have the finest family in the USA.
Two years ago, my wife Carol and I decided that our children's education would
not be complete without some grounding in modern computers. To this end, we
bought our children a brand new Compaq to learn with. The kids had a lot of fun
using the handful of application programs we'd bought, such as Adobe's Photoshop
and Microsoft's Word, and my wife and I were pleased that our gift was received
so well. Our son Peter was most entranced by the device, and became quite a pro
at surfing the net. When Peter began to spend whole days on the machine, I
became concerned, but Carol advised me to calm down, and that it was only a passing
phase. I was content to bow to her experience as a mother, until our youngest
daughter, Cindy, charged into the living room one night to blurt out: "Peter is
a computer hacker!"

As you can imagine, I was amazed. A computer hacker in my own house! I began to
monitor my son's habits, to make certain that Cindy wasn't just telling
stories, as she is prone to doing at times.

After a few days of investigation, and some research into computer hacking, I
confronted Peter with the evidence. I'm afraid to say, this was the only time I
have ever been truly disappointed in one of my children. We raised them to be
honest and to have integrity, and Peter betrayed the principles we tried to
encourage in him, when he refused point blank to admit to his activities. His
denials continued for hours, and in the end, I was left with no choice but to ban
him from using the computer until he is old enough to be responsible for his

After going through this ordeal with my own family, I was left pondering how I
could best help others in similar situations. I'd gained a lot of knowledge
over those few days regarding hackers. It's only right that I provide that
information to other parents, in the hope that they will be able to tell if their
children are being drawn into the world of hacking. Perhaps other parents will be
able to steer their sons back onto the straight and narrow before extreme
measures need to be employed.

To this end, I have decided to publish the top ten signs that your son is a
hacker. I advise any parents to read this list carefully and if their son matches
the profile, they should take action. A smart parent will first try to reason
with their son, before resorting to groundings, or even spanking. I pride myself
that I have never had to spank a child, and I hope this guide will help other
parents to put a halt to their son's misbehaviour before a spanking becomes

1. Has your son asked you to change ISPs?

Most American families use trusted and responsible Internet Service Providers,
such as AOL. These providers have a strict "No Hacking" policy, and take
careful measures to ensure that your internet experience is enjoyable, educational
and above all legal. If your child is becoming a hacker, one of his first steps
will be to request a change to a more hacker friendly provider.

I would advise all parents to refuse this request. One of the reasons your son
is interested in switching providers is to get away from AOL's child safety
filter. This filter is vital to any parent who wants his son to enjoy the internet
without the endangering him through exposure to "adult" content. It is best to
stick with the protection AOL provides, rather than using a home-based
solution. If your son is becoming a hacker, he will be able to circumvent any
home-based measures with surprising ease, using information gleaned from various hacker

2. Are you finding programs on your computer that you don't remember

Your son will probably try to install some hacker software. He may attempt to
conceal the presence of the software in some way, but you can usually find any
new programs by reading through the programs listed under "Install/Remove
Programs" in your control panel. Popular hacker software includes "Comet Cursor",
"Bonzi Buddy" and "Flash".

The best option is to confront your son with the evidence, and force him to
remove the offending programs. He will probably try to install the software again,
but you will be able to tell that this is happening, if your machine offers to
"download" one of the hacker applications. If this happens, it is time to give
your son a stern talking to, and possibly consider punishing him with a

3. Has your child asked for new hardware?

Computer hackers are often limited by conventional computer hardware. They may
request "faster" video cards, and larger hard drives, or even more memory. If
your son starts requesting these devices, it is possible that he has a
legitimate need. You can best ensure that you are buying legal, trustworthy hardware by
only buying replacement parts from your computer's manufacturer.

If your son has requested a new "processor" from a company called "AMD", this
is genuine cause for alarm. AMD is a third-world based company who make
inferior, "knock-off" copies of American processor chips. They use child labor
extensively in their third world sweatshops, and they deliberately disable the security
features that American processor makers, such as Intel, use to prevent hacking.
AMD chips are never sold in stores, and you will most likely be told that you
have to order them from internet sites. Do not buy this chip! This is one
request that you must refuse your son, if you are to have any hope of raising him

4. Does your child read hacking manuals?

If you pay close attention to your son's reading habits, as I do, you will be
able to determine a great deal about his opinions and hobbies. Children are at
their most impressionable in the teenage years. Any father who has had a
seventeen year old daughter attempt to sneak out on a date wearing make up and perfume
is well aware of the effect that improper influences can have on inexperienced

There are, unfortunately, many hacking manuals available in bookshops today. A
few titles to be on the lookout for are: "Snow Crash" and "Cryptonomicon" by
Neal Stephenson; "Neuromancer" by William Gibson; "Programming with Perl" by
Timothy O'Reilly; "Geeks" by Jon Katz; "The Hacker Crackdown" by Bruce Sterling;
"Microserfs" by Douglas Coupland; "Hackers" by Steven Levy; and "The Cathedral
and the Bazaar" by Eric S. Raymond.

If you find any of these hacking manuals in your child's possession, confiscate
them immediately. You should also petition local booksellers to remove these
titles from their shelves. You may meet with some resistance at first, but even
booksellers have to bow to community pressure.

5. How much time does your child spend using the computer each day?

If your son spends more than thirty minutes each day on the computer, he may be
using it to DOS other peoples sites. DOSing involves gaining access to the
"command prompt" on other people's machines, and using it to tie up vital internet
services. This can take up to eight hours. If your son is doing this, he is
breaking the law, and you should stop him immediately. The safest policy is to
limit your children's access to the computer to a maximum of forty-five minutes
each day.

6. Does your son use Quake?

Quake is an online virtual reality used by hackers. It is a popular meeting
place and training ground, where they discuss hacking and train in the use of
various firearms. Many hackers develop anti-social tendencies due to the use of
this virtual world, and it may cause erratic behaviour at home and at school.

If your son is using Quake, you should make hime understand that this is not
acceptable to you. You should ensure all the firearms in your house are carefully
locked away, and have trigger locks installed. You should also bring your
concerns to the attention of his school.

7. Is your son becoming argumentative and surly in his social behaviour?

As a child enters the electronic world of hacking, he may become disaffected
with the real world. He may lose the ability to control his actions, or judge the
rightness or wrongness of a course of behaviour. This will manifest itself
soonest in the way he treats others. Those whom he disagrees with will be met with
scorn, bitterness, and even foul language. He may utter threats of violence of
a real or electronic nature.

Even when confronted, your son will probably find it difficult to talk about
this problem to you. He will probably claim that there is no problem, and that
you are imagining things. He may tell you that it is you who has the problem, and
you should "back off" and "stop smothering him." Do not allow yourself to be
deceived. You are the only chance your son has, even if he doesn't understand the
situation he is in. Keep trying to get through to him, no matter how much he
retreats into himself.

8. Is your son obsessed with "Lunix"?

BSD, Lunix, Debian and Mandrake are all versions of an illegal hacker operation
system, invented by a Soviet computer hacker named Linyos Torovoltos, before
the Russians lost the Cold War. It is based on a program called "xenix", which
was written by Microsoft for the US government. These programs are used by
hackers to break into other people's computer systems to steal credit card numbers.
They may also be used to break into people's stereos to steal their music, using
the "mp3" program. Torovoltos is a notorious hacker, responsible for writing
many hacker programs, such as "telnet", which is used by hackers to connect to
machines on the internet without using a telephone.

Your son may try to install "lunix" on your hard drive. If he is careful, you
may not notice its presence, however, lunix is a capricious beast, and if
handled incorrectly, your son may damage your computer, and even break it completely
by deleting Windows, at which point you will have to have your computer
repaired by a professional.

If you see the word "LILO" during your windows startup (just after you turn the
machine on), your son has installed lunix. In order to get rid of it, you will
have to send your computer back to the manufacturer, and have them fit a new
hard drive. Lunix is extremely dangerous software, and cannot be removed without
destroying part of your hard disk surface.

9. Has your son radically changed his appearance?

If your son has undergone a sudden change in his style of dress, you may have a
hacker on your hands. Hackers tend to dress in bright, day-glo colors. They may
wear baggy pants, bright colored shirts and spiky hair dyed in bright colors to
match their clothes. They may take to carrying "glow-sticks" and some wear
pacifiers around their necks. (I have no idea why they do this) There are many such
hackers in schools today, and your son may have started to associate with them.
If you notice that your son's group of friends includes people dressed like
this, it is time to think about a severe curfew, to protect him from dangerous

10. Is your son struggling academically?

If your son is failing courses in school, or performing poorly on sports teams,
he may be involved in a hacking group, such as the infamous "Otaku" hacker
association. Excessive time spent on the computer, communicating with his fellow
hackers may cause temporary damage to the eyes and brain, from the
electromagnetic radiation. This will cause his marks to slip dramatically, particularly in
difficult subjects such as Math, and Chemistry. In extreme cases, over-exposure
to computer radiation can cause schizophrenia, meningitis and other
psychological diseases. Also, the reduction in exercise may cause him to lose muscle mass,
and even to start gaining weight. For the sake of your child's mental and
physical health, you must put a stop to his hacking, and limit his computer time

I encourage all parents to read through this guide carefully. Your child's
future may depend upon it. Hacking is an illegal and dangerous activity, that may
land your child in prison, and tear your family apart. It cannot be taken too


At 28/12/05 6:33 AM, Blogger Randal L. Schwartz said...

If "Programming with Perl" by
Timothy O'Reilly
is supposed to be my book (originally), "Programming Perl" published by O'Reilly Media, then that's just one of many things where this list goes wrong, both factually, and in drawing conclusions.

While a few of these behaviors might be indicators that some illegal activity goes on, the article definitely confuses people who are geeks with people who are dangerous, in a xenophobic manner. It also makes the more subtle (but frequent) error of confusing "hacking" (the art of being a geek) with illegal activity.

For example, "Programming Perl" contains a reference to being "Just another Perl hacker", but means this in the geek sense, not the illegal sense.

Yeah, bad email, misinformed, and is probably better published in the Weekly World News alongside "Eight Signs your Co-Worker is an Alien!" than in legitimate news channels.


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