He’s The Best Hacker, Just Ask Him

Hack Poseurs

It’s annoyed me for years. Hack. Hacking. Hacker.

God, I hate those words.

I got my first Sys Admin job around the time Kevin Mitnick got caught and subsequently imprisoned. I thought, “wow, that has got to be what it’s like working in Information Technology.” I figured I was one job away from being immersed in one huge orgy of hacking, stealing Visa numbers, tracing phone calls, bringing government agencies to their knees and, of course, playing Tic-Tac-Toe with the WOPR. Well, that’s what you get when the bulk of your computer experience comes from Jurassic Park, Sneakers and WarGames.

Adam mentioned the excellent Cracked article called 5 Things Hollywood Thinks Computers Can Do.  In discussing Live Free or Die Hard, Cracked says: 

"Hacking is to this movie what magic is in the Harry Potter stories: plot-hole spackle. All the gaping cracks in logic between scene A to scene C can be neatly smoothed over with the mystical power of Hack. The improbability reaches critical mass, though, when the bad guys hack into the natural-gas lines near a power plant and make them spontaneously explode under the streets."

Brilliant.

Now I’ve worked around some pretty damn smart developers. There is no doubt that with the right security clearance and a general lack of ethics some of these guys could have wreaked havoc on the company. Still, this is light-years from what most people think of when they hear Hacker.

The term that grates on me like no other is that oft-heard, King-of-Poseurs line: Reg Hack. I still feel like I need to douche my ears when I hear it. “I fixed it with a reg hack. Don’t ask me how, you don’t wanna know”. 

No, I think I know. You opened up the Windows Registry with Regedit.exe navigated to a registry value that has been documented so much it’s probably highlighted in your grandma’s Bible and you changed a DWord value from 0 to 1.

Oh, damn… what are your demands O’ Great One?! I am humbled that you know my name. What am I supposed to do when you keep reminding me that you performed a reg hack? What, give you my daughter? Commission a trophy?

These dorks need to know that there are two traits that they need in order to be like Dennis from Jurassic Park. They’ve got the abstinence one down pat but they just don’t have the other: The actual intelligence needed to pull it off.

Adam, Shawn and I used to come up with other lame “hacks” that, to us, were as pathetic as Reg Hack:

  1. Word Hack. If you have the brain power to follow this one then you’re well ahead of the game. When no one is looking, somehow, open a Microsoft Word document and change any occurrence of the word “and” to the word “fart”. See? Word Hacks kick ass!
  2. Command Line Hack. Open up a command prompt on your Windows desktop (if you have to ask how well, then I’m afraid you’re just not hacking material) and type in this gem of a hack and then hit Enter: echo “I’m a tool”
  3. PDQ Deploy Hack: The next time you distribute software force a reboot after the deployment is complete. Dude, You Da’ Man!
  4. Basic Motor-Skills Hack. Walk in a straight line and then, suddenly, move to the left!

OK, I think you get the point.

Just get your job done. Don’t act like that macro hack you created is going to stop the bloodshed in Misrata. Don’t bore me about your Exchange hack to explain how you started a flame war from a service account. If you want to impress me how ’bout you rock a laundry hack and change that disgusting shirt once in a while?


Follow me on Twitter @ShaneCorellian