In response to recent press coverage of Denial of Service attacks on numerous websites, and the arrest of a teenager from the metropolitan area of The Hague, the hackerspace Revelation Space in The Hague, The Netherlands, calls for a meeting on ethical hacking.
The arrested teenager, who was allegedly involved in the attacks on websites of MasterCard and other companies that obstructed Wikileaks‘ activities, was known to visit the hackerspace and was a regular in its online chatroom. This is what motivated members of Revelation Space to bring attention to the subject of ‘ethical hacking’.
Disrupting websites with a ‘Distributed Denial of Service’ attack (DDoS) or by any other means does not align with the ethics of the hacker community. Koen Martens, founder of Revelation Space, responds to the actions of Anonymous, ‘I liken a Denial of Service attack to slapping someone in the face when you run out of arguments to prove someone wrong.’
A hacker is a creative and curious individual, someone who wants to find out how things work and perhaps tries to find flaws in their design. An ethical hacker will act responsibly with the knowledge gained and will not abuse this knowledge. An ethical hacker is aware of the consequences of his or her actions, or the sharing of the gained knowledge, and will always strive to operate within the boundaries of law.
As such, the attacks on sites such as MasterCard have nothing to do with hacking. Anyone can download, install and start a computer program in order to become part of a coordinated online crime. There is no creativity involved: DDoS attackers generally use existing tools without realising how these work.
Although legal action is part of a proper response to the action of this minor ‘script kiddie’, it must be acknowledged, that everyone has made mistakes in their youth they are not proud of. The young man and his accomplices should not be excluded from the community. They should be shown a better way to reach a goal. One of the hackerspace’s members admits, that as a teenager he also did not always consider the consequences of his actions, and explains, ‘What really helped me was the interaction with real hackers, people with a sense of ethics. We can do much more for this young man in the context of hacker ethics, than the people who raise him.’
The event will be held on Saturday, December 18th, from 12.30 till 06.00 PM CET, at the Revelation Space hackerspace, Binckhorstlaan 172, Den Haag, The Netherlands. The meeting is organised in cooperation with the Hxx Foundation, the Utrecht hackerspace Randomdata, and the Dutch chapter of the international hacker collective 2600.
Contributing to the meeting will be, amongst others: IT lawyers Arnoud Engelfriet (ICTRecht) and Walter van Holst (Mitopics, EDRi board member), internet journalist Brenno de Winter (NU.nl, Webwereld.nl, The Security Update podcast), veteran hacker Hans van de Looy (Madison Gurkha), and Jurre van Bergen (ethical hacker with a special interest in government sites).
Everyone is invited to this session. Members of the press are explicitly invited to attend. Please note that the main language will be Dutch.