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Answer Stated question and respond to two classmate’s post. 250 words each

Stated Discussion Questions: How are definitions of computer hacking and hackers constructed and often contested? Assess how political, criminal justice and popular representations of hackers embody wider cultural concerns about technological and social change. What are some realities behind the myth of hacking as an expert and elite activity?

Classmate 1 Sesan: One of the more highly publicized categories of cybercrime involves hacking, which can be defined as any activities involving an attempt to gain unauthorized access to IT systems’ (Furnell, 2009). Hacking is used as a broad term in the media and could be considered as too simplistic as there are a number of different sub-groups. For example, a white hat or ethical hacker infiltrates a system without causing any damage in the process and such an individual can be hired by companies to find weaknesses in security systems. Alternatively, some hackers unrequested, infiltrate systems in order to highlight frailties and report it to the organization in order for them to improve their security. While there is obviously a benign motivation for such activity, it is still an illegal act (as a form of trespassing) and hackers can be prosecuted even without having done any damage (Aiken et al. 2015). Conversely, black hat hackers penetrate computer systems with the specific purpose of causing damage or accessing unauthorised information. Grey hat hackers may seek opportunities to exploit systems in the hope of obtaining a monetary reward and may cause malicious damage to an individual or organisation they deem to be unethical. Kirwan and Power (2012) discussed the ‘dark figure’ of hacking; that is, the difficulty of knowing just how much hacking occurs due to issues in completing methodical surveys, attackers not wanting to incriminate themselves, victims’ disinclined to report hacking, and victims who may even be unaware and therefore unable to report.

In terms of social developments, what has emerged in recent years is an unusually strong political culture in hacking. There now exists the figure of the hacktivist who draws ‘on the creative use of computer technology for the purposes of facilitating online protests, performing civil disobedience in cyberspace (Gunkel, 2005). Hacking began as an ‘intellectual curiosity’ arguably with hints of vandalistic overtones, it now has distinct overtones of political and social protest. However, at the same time, such exploits require reasonably high levels of technical expertise, but such is not necessarily required in order to gain access to a system.

Cybercriminals have become adept in hiding their illegal activity online. It is important to remember that what is commonly called ‘the Web’ is really just the surface Internet, beneath that surface content lies a vast, mostly uncharted area known as the ‘DeepWeb’. It is estimated that the surface web accounts for only about 1% of all content online; the remaining 99% is housed in the deep web (Aiken et al. 2015). The Onion Router (is so-called because of its many layers of security) is one of the gateways to purposefully hidden information in the Deep Web (Kotenko, 2014 as cited in Aiken et al. 2015). The Deep Web and The Onion Router are designed to anonymise users; it also has a function for whistleblowers, activists and confidential sources (Kotenko, 2014). Deep web and The Onion Router protocols were arguably originally intended for sensitive communications including political dissent; however, in the last decade they have become hubs for criminal black markets that distribute drugs, counterfeit pharmaceuticals, stolen credit cards, child pornography online, pirated media and more. In a financial and corporate context, the threat of cybercrime has been a substantial fear for quite some time, with references to the Internet being a ‘wild west’ type of environment stretching back at least 20 years (Meyer, 1995). That idea, with its associations with general lawlessness, still recurs in information security literature (Moraski, 2011 as cited in Aiken et al. 2015). The 2014 hack of the multi-billion dollar company Sony offers a prime example of the cost of cybercrime, the attack ended up costing the company over $35 million (Seal, 2015). Consequently, it is no overstatement to say that cybercrime presents a very clear danger to the government and our society at large.


Aiken, M., Mc-Mahon, C., Haughton, C., O’Neill, L., & O’Carroll, E. (2015). A consideration of the social impact of cybercrime: examples from hacking, piracy, and child abuse material online, Contemporary Social Science, DOI: 10.1080/21582041.2015.1117648

Furnell, S. (2009). Hackers, viruses and malicious software. In Y. Jewkes & M. Yar (Eds.), Handbook of internet crime (pp. 173-193). New York, NY: Willan.

Gunkel, D. (2005). Editorial: Introduction to hacking and hacktivism. New Media & Society, 7, 595-597.DOI: 10.1177/1461444805056007

Kirwan, G., & Power, A. (2012). The psychology of cybercrime: Concepts and principles. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Kotenko, J. (2014). What is Tor? A beginner’s guide to the underground internet. Retrieved from Infosecurity, 8(2), 20-23. DOI: 10.1016/S1754-4548(11)70021-3

Seal, M. (2015). An exclusive look at Sony’s hacking Saga. Vanity Fair. Retrieved from:

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