Are Hackers Selling
By: Space Rogue
November 30, 1998
Have the true underground
hackers sold out? Does information still yearn to be free or has the quest
for the almighty dollar changed the underground as we know it?
Last week a major
hacking web site www.hackcity.com announced that they will start
a members only pay area on their web site. AntiOnline has recently received venture
capital funding and has a staff of approximately 30 people. Hacking institutions
such as Cult of the Dead Cow
and L0phT Heavy Industries sell CD's
and T-shirts. Even the Hacker News Network carries advertising on its
Has hacking become
so marketable and trendy that people aren't hacking anymore? The way things
look it would seem that Hollywood has finally succeeded in making what
was a small underground subculture the next big thing on Madison Avenue.
And what about the
information that yearns to be free? It is still out there just don't count
those shiny CD-ROMS for $29.95 plus shipping.
The high costs of
internet connections, directory space and high traffic web sites have
led many hackers as well as people who just want to make a quick buck
to charge for access. At the very least they have started to host advertising
banners from the likes of Microsoft Hot Mail, Macy's, and even Volvo.
In some cases companies are displaying their ads directly above web pages
that describe how to hack their products.
While possibly compromising
the so called 'hacker ethic' many of todays hackers still try to hold
true to their belief systems while still being able to pay the bills.
cDc sells T-Shirts, watches, bumper stickers and I've heard rumors of
temporary tatoos but look what they have given away for free. Over 300
of the best underground text-files covering several years of technology
are available from their web site free of charge. Back Orifice, the most
talked about and feared hacking tool since Satan, has been given away
to the public for just the cost of a download.
L0phT Heavy Industries
also sells T-shirts, CD-ROMs, and even L0phTCrack is for sale. However,
they give away the source code to their software and make gigabytes of
hacking files and programs available to anyone to download. They host
some the premier hacking sites on the net free of charge such as the Tezcat
Archives, Black Crawling Systems and The Whacked Mac Archives.
"We feel it is important
to give back to the community" said Mudge, a L0phT member, in a recent
interview. "Everything on our CDs is available for free on our web site.
We sell the gui version of L0phtCrack and make the command line version
free." he said. Then he laughed and added "Hackers don't use gui's anyway."
Then there are those
that don't care, those who only want your money and have no willingness
or desire to 'give back to the community'. Those are the web sites that
promise the best hacking files but all you can find are pages and pages
of ads with annoying popup windows begging you to click some banners to
help pay for this truly 'elite' site. Its almost as bad as the online
Then there are those
who will suck down a few megabytes of files from the web. Slap the word
'elite' on it and sell it on CD for thirty dollars as 'just released hacking files, Not available anywhere else.'
Don't forget those
elite members only hacking sites that claim to offer the latest and greatest
'not available anywhere else' archives. For the low price of twenty dollars
a month you get access to the latest and greatest two year old files that
you probably already had. Or worse yet they don't even have a members
area. They take your money and when your password doesn't work they blame
it on your browser or how much RAM you don't have in your machine.
The underground landscape
has definitely changed. There are still people and groups who are trying
their best in a capitalist society to do what they think is right. They
are trying to give away as much of the information that they can while
at the same time still be able to pay for the costs associated with giving
that information away. Then there are others who are just looking to make
While there are definitely
people who have 'sold-out' it is important to look at the whole picture
before using that label. While one hacking web site may have advertising,
or a hacking group may sell T-Shirts or CDs it is important to considered
the whole picture before using the sell-out label.