Information security scenes are great for studying the social construction of risk and value because they bring together people from very different backgrounds, motivations and social positions around a common problem: the risk constructed around information security.
→ Hacking an engineering culture was key to these developments.
In what ways is hacking cybercrime? (In your answer, make sure you characterise both the range of practices called “hacking” and how you understand cybercrime.)
Read, analyse and discuss the primary sources:
→ Draw a diagram of actors, risk and value!
Phreakers explore phone networks, notably the Bell Telephone Corporation:
→ Vulnerabilities are only shared underground! Masters of Deception (Phiber Optik) vs. Legion of Doom (Erik Bloodaxe)
→ Self-organised knowledge production of security vulnerabilities and engineering culture to nourish a scene!
Public access to strong encryption (Levy 2001):
→ Infosec becomes a public concern!
L0pht Heavy Industries (est. 1992; Fisher 2018):
→ Infosec as national security (Greenwalt and Pratt 1998)!
“Global Domination Through Media Saturation”:
→ “Digital vigilantism” as a genre of hacking!
Censorship case of DVD copy protection removal program (descrambler). Two hacker groups involved: Masters of Reverse Engineering & Drink or Die. Raids and court cases 1999-2004.
Industry alternative to black markets:
→ Responsible Disclosure embraced by the industry (Friis-Jensen 2014).
Many options for security vulnerabilities today:
→ Risk and value of security vulnerabilities is a highly continent social construct!
→ Stratificaton: All layers present today!
“Heroes yet criminals” (Denker 2014):
Examples: the Chaos Computer Club (Germany), L0pht Heavy Industries (USA).
“The best lock is where everybody knows how it works but only the one with the key can open it.”
The practice of making the details of security vulnerabilities public – is a damned good idea. Public scrutiny is the only reliable way to improve security, while secrecy only makes us less secure. (Schneider 2007)
We don’t believe in security by obscurity, and as far as we know, full disclosure is the only way to ensure that everyone, not just the insiders, have access to the information we need. (Rose 2010)
According to British sociologist Anthony Giddens, a risk society is “a society increasingly preoccupied with the future (and also with safety), which generates the notion of risk,” (Giddens and Pierson 1998, 209) whilst the German sociologist Ulrich Beck defines it as “a systematic way of dealing with hazards and insecurities induced and introduced by modernisation itself” (Beck 1992, 21).
The totality of these relations of production constitutes the economic structure of society, the real foundation, on which arises a legal and political superstructure and to which correspond definite forms of social consciousness. The mode of production of material life conditions the general process of social, political and intellectual life. It is not the consciousness of men that determines their existence, but their social existence that determines their consciousness. (Marx 1859, Preface)
→ The superstructure also a relevant field of social struggle and conflict.
Forms of capital:
The different types of capital can be derived from economic capital, but only at the cost of more or less great effort of transformation, which is needed to produce the type of power effective in the field in question. … The convertibility of the different types of capital is the basis of the strategies aimed at ensuring the reproduction of capital (and the position occupied in social space). (Bourdieu 1986)
Main reference: Stark et al. (2006).
Read, analyse and discuss the news:
→ Use social theories to understand the social construction of worth and value in relation to cybercrime!
Guardian Heartbleed bug coverage:
Hackers’ concerns go mainstream:
→ Today, hacking is part of state and capital’s toolboxes too!
Beck, Ulrich. 1992. Risk Society: Towards a New Modernity. New Delhi: Sage.
Boltanski, Luc, and Laurent Thévenot. 2006. On Justification: The Economies of Worth. Princeton: Princeton University Press.
Bourdieu, Pierre. 1986. “The Forms of Capital.” In Handbook of Theory and Research for the Sociology of Education, ed by. John Richardson, 241–258. First edition. New York: Greenwood. https://www.marxists.org/reference/subject/philosophy/works/fr/bourdieu-forms-capital.htm.
Caldwell, Chris, and Jr. G. L. Honaker. 2000. “Prime Curios!: 48565…29443 (1401-Digits).” Web page. http://primes.utm.edu/curios/page.php?number_id=953.
Carmody, Phil. 2001. “The World’s First Illegal Prime Number?” Web page. http://fatphil.org/maths/illegal1.html.
———. 2002. “An Executable Prime Number?” Web page. http://fatphil.org/maths/illegal.html.
Coleman, Gabriella. 2014. Hacker, Hoaxer, Whistleblower, Spy: The Many Faces of Anonymous. London; New York: Verso. http://monoskop.org/File:Coleman_Gabriela_Hacker_Hoaxer_Whistleblower_Spy_The_Story_of_Anonymous.epub.
Dead Cow, Cult of the. 2001. “Hacktivismo Declaration: International Bookburning in Progress.” Press release. http://www.cultdeadcow.com/cDc_files/declaration.html.
Denker, Kai. 2014. “Heroes yet Criminals of the German Computer Revolution.” In Hacking Europe: From Computer Cultures to Demoscenes, ed by. Gerard Alberts and Ruth Oldenziel, 167–188. First edition. History of Computing. London; Heidelberg; New York; Dordrecht: Springer-Verlag.
Doctorow, Cory. 2011. “The Coming War on General Computation.” Talk at 29C3, The 29th Chaos Communication Congress. http://events.ccc.de/congress/2011/Fahrplan/events/4848.en.html.
Fisher, Dennis. 2018. “‘We Got to Be Cool About This’: An Oral History of the L0pht.” Transcripts published online. https://duo.com/decipher/an-oral-history-of-the-l0pht.
Friis-Jensen, Esben. 2014. “The History of Bug Bounty Programs.” Blog entry on Cobalt company website. https://blog.cobalt.io/the-history-of-bug-bounty-programs-50def4dcaab3.
Giddens, Anthony, and Christopher Pierson. 1998. Conversations with Anthony Giddens: Making Sense of Modernity. Boston: Standford University Press.
Gramsci, Antonio. 1971. Selections from the Prison Notebooks. New York: International Publishers.
Greenwalt, Bill, and Alex Pratt. 1998. “Hearings Announced on Computer Security Failures in Government.” Press release of the US Senate. http://web.archive.org/web/20110927215809/http://hsgac.senate.gov/l0pht.htm.
Hannum, Charles M., Phil Carmody, and Alex Bowley. 2002. “DVDlogo.c.” C source code on website. http://www.cs.cmu.edu/~dst/DeCSS/Gallery/bowley-efdtt-dvdlogo.html.
Kirkpatrick, Graeme. 2004. Critical Technology: A Social Theory of Personal Computing. Hants; Burligton, VT: Ashgate.
Kulla, Daniel. 2003. Der Phrasenprüfer: Szenen Aus Dem Leben von Wau Holland, Mitbegründer Des Chaos-Computer-Clubs [the Voltage Tester - Scenes from the Life of Wau Holland, Co-Founder of the Chaos Computer Clubs]. Werner Pieper & The Grüne Kraft.
Levy, Stephen. 2001. Crypto: How the Code Rebels Beat the Government-Saving Privacy in the Digital Age. London: Penguin.
Marx, Karl. 1859. A Contribution to the Critique of Political Economy. First. Moscow: Progress Publishers. https://people.well.com/conf/inkwell.vue/topics/190/St-Jude-Memorial-and-Virtual-Wak-page01.html.
Pinch, Trevor J., and Wiebe E. Bijker. 1984. “The Social Construction of Facts and Artefacts: Or How the Sociology of Science and the Sociology of Technology Might Benefit Each Other.” Social Studies of Science 14 (August): 399–441. http://libgen.io/scimag/get.php?doi=10.1177%2F030631284014003004.
Rose, Leonard. 2010. “Full-Disclosure.” Mailing list manifesto. https://lists.grok.org.uk/mailman/listinfo/full-disclosure.
Schneider, Bruce. 2007. “Damned Good Idea.” Blog post. https://www.schneier.com/essay-146.html.
Stark, David, Danuel Beunza, Monique Girard, and János Lukács. 2006. The Sense of Dissonance: Accounts of Worth in Economic Life. Princeton: Princeton University Press.
Touretzky, David S. 2008. “Gallery of Css Descramblers.” Web site. http://www.cs.cmu.edu/~dst/DeCSS/Gallery/index.html.