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Hacking Abstract Concepts


The abstract concepts of hacking transcend computing and can be applied to many other aspects of life that involve complex systems.

For example, Near the end of 1993, a 21-year-old computer hacker and student at MIT named David LaMacchia set up a bulletin board system called Cynosure for the purposes of software piracy. Those who had software to give would upload it, and those who wanted software would download it. The service was only online for about six weeks, but it generated heavy network traffic worldwide, which eventually attracted the attention of university and federal authorities. Software companies claimed that they lost one million dollars as a result of Cynosure, and a federal grand jury charged LaMacchia with one count of conspiring with unknown persons to violate the wire fraud statue. However, the charge was dismissed because what LaMacchia was alleged to have done wasn’t criminal conduct under the Copyright Act, since the infringement was not for the purpose of commercial advantage or private financial gain. Apparently, the lawmakers had never anticipated that someone might engage in these types of activities with a motive other than personal financial gain. (Congress closed this loophole in 1997 with the No Electronic Theft Act.) Even though this example doesn’t involve the exploiting of a computer program, the judges and courts can be thought of as computers executing the program of the legal system as it was written.

--Hacking, 2nd Edition: The Art of Exploitation