The Secret World of Computer Hackers

What's it like to live as one of the world's most famous computer hackers? Imagine how safe the secrets of national security would be in the hands of the unsuspecting guy next door. Now, let it sink in that many of the most infamous and pervasive hackers have been your average Joes and Janes. Some, like Apple's original co-founder Stephen Wozniak and 1990s hacker Kevin Mitnick even went on to make an honest living of their technological loopholes as online security consultants. And although some miners of information purposely seek to destroy, like HeartBleed, others are propelled by sheer curiosity and a desire to explore without exposition. Take for example Gary McKinnon, who broke into 97 U.S. government computers to learn more about aliens. (Spoiler alert: He didn't find much.)

So how do we know who the good and bad guys are? What are the repercussions of accidental hacking gone awry — like when Tadayoshi Kohno accidentally hacked a wireless heart defibrillator and electrocuted a patient at the University of Washington? What's the difference between hackers, whistleblowers and online security activists? It depends on who you ask. Check out this playlist to get the facts from the cyber hackers themselves.

Written by Curiosity Staff June 11, 2014

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