Hacking Rhetoric

Sandbox Hack- Artist Statement

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My assigned person to hack was “Tom”. I had no idea who Tom was, just that we has in our class and obviously a boy. I looked on the website and found the username Tomlam93, and guessed that this had to be my guy. My hacking process consisted of first searching Facebook for Tommy Lam’s page. I tried to look at his interests, where he was from, but I don’t think I could have done it without the hint he gave about where he attended high school in Houston. From there, I searched his school to finally crack his account and gain access. It surprised me how easily I gained access to his account.

It was exciting looking for information about Tommy and scrolling through his Facebook account with a purpose. At first, I felt very creepy hacking into his account. Even though it was assignment, it felt wrong and like I wasn’t respecting his privacy. I can understand the thrill factor hacker’s have after this though, because since it is such a process to gain bits of information before completing the task, it makes the build up very large and anticipated. The whole time I didn’t think that I was going to be able to, so I was trying to hack the whole time with this sort of mentality that I wouldn’t ever be able to. However when I finally did, it was kind of a shocking moment for me. Since it looks just like my page, I actually forgot I was logged in and started writing my weekly blog on Tommy’s account! It was crazy–I just lost track of what I was doing and it looked the same as my account.

At first, I had no idea how I would go about hacking Tommy’s blog. I decided to leave a comment on one of Tommy’s weekly blog posts. The blog was about using Hackasaurus tool and being able to really feel like you’ve hacked something. I changed his working to mean the opposite of how he really felt when using the Hackasaurus tool. Tommy said it was thrilling and he understood how hacker’s strive for this rush and it makes him feel powerful. I changed the wording my make Tommy feel like this act was unethical and he felt frightened with this power. I also changed his wording to say that he will never understand these individuals, when actually he originally said he completely understands them now.

I felt like it really related to the act of hacking that I had just done. I wrote a comment saying I understand and agree with his thoughts on this, and how when I hacked into his blog it was the task that I was trying to accomplish, but for some reason right when I gained access it was like everything had changed and all of the sudden, I had crossed a privacy line and I should be here. It’s an uncomfortable feeling messing with someone’s work. I don’t like it!

I guess I feel like way because in this generation, we are so tech savvy and I probably have 50 different accounts out there. Although this is different because we had clues, its scary to picture someone having total access to my account, and some of my accounts have credit card information and my addresses! Makes me want to go in and delete everything.

This experience does make me think differently of hackers, especially black-hat hackers. The thought of hacking is very different then experiencing the way it feels, even on such a small scale like this one. I can’t imagine stealing information or compromising national security. It’s weird to think when of if hackers question their ethics in a situation like that. I could see it being like once you start doing it multiple times, it gets to seem so normal that you don’t question the thoughts in your head anymore. I do completely understand why hackers hack. It was fun and I can definitely understand white-hat hackers, I think that is a good type of hacking. But I wonder, where does it stop for black-hat hackers? Is there ever any consideration of whom they’re affecting?

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