Hacking Rhetoric

Artist’s Statement

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The person I was hacking was Lara. In the beginning, I had no idea who Lara is and I couldn’t find out her out from the weekly post. The only thing I knew was that Lara is one of the girls in class. I searched “Lara from University of Texas at Austin” on facebook and found one familiar face. However I couldn’t tell if she is the Lara i was going to hack. So I decided to find her out in our class because I noticed Beck always calls students name in discussion section. It took me two weeks to figure out who Lara is. Mainwhile, the first password hint was posted and I learn that Lara’s password was one of the avengers. When I saw this hint, I believed that I would get her password easily because the hint is very obvious. However, i was totally wrong. I searched “avenger list” on google and found out a list of avengers. Some of the names are very rare but I decided to try all of them in case I don’t miss any. I remember started with “iron man”. I quickly learned that I have only 5 attempts before WordPress blocking me from trying again and I have to wait about 15 minutes before getting another 5 attempts. It took me about 4 hours to finish my first try and I didn’t get the password. I started to think that those names might have small ariations. Then I started my round two. This time I elimitaed some of the avengers that aren’t popular. I also noticed that Lara didn’t say that there were any digit added to the end of her password, so her password must have at least 7 letters. I was able to eliminated names like “Beast” and “Thor”. Sadly I didn’t get her password again so I asked for extra hint. With hint 2, i learned that her password was “captainamerica”. When I reflected my hacking experience, I think that I might miss-type “captainamerica” a couple times.

After getting into Lara’s account, I quickly read her previous posts. I found out one weekly post talking about how she use Twitter in this class. She says that using social media in a classroom is very innovative and amazing. I personally disagree with her opinion, so I decided to hack this post. What I did was simple: I rewote a couple adjetive in upper-case letter, such as “AMAZING” and “REFRESHING”. By doing this, I added emotions to these words to make the author seems is very emotional. So audiences may get the hint that either the author is too excited to be rational or the author is being sarcastic. Thus the meaning of the original post is changed.

I learned from my experience that hacking isn’t as easy when there are culture barriers. As a foreigner, I don’t use Facebook and Twitter so I couldn’t locate my target on these social media. I noticed that because I had no mutual friends with Lara on Facebook, it took 2days for my friend request to be accepted. when I was trying avenger names, I only recognized few of them. I even confused avengers with the Justice League of Ameican that I tried “aquaman” a couple times. All in all i learned that the culture can be a huge barrier in hacking. Another funny experience of my hacking is that I mistakenly changed Lara’s password and immediatly lost it. I panic a lot so I sent Beck an email at midnight. Think about the reason that i panic, I was partially scared of getting into trouble, but I also felt guilty. I thought i lost Lara’s account for her (I didn’t realize she can reset it) so I got her into trouble. I felt like a thief and would be accused for stealing. I might be the worst hacker in the world.


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