Hacker Curriculum

Source: ACM TechNews and IEEE Distributed Systems Online.

IEEE Distributed Systems Online

The hacker community has devised effective methods for the analysis, reverse engineering, testing, and modification of software and hardware, and it behooves leaders in industry and academia to understand this culture and be cognizant of its values, unique strengths, and weaknesses, writes Dartmouth College’s Sergey Bratus. He observes that many quirks of the hacker culture are rooted in frustration with certain industry and academic trends (pressure to follow standard solutions, a limited perspective of the API, a dearth of tools for studying the state of a system, etc.), which he believes contribute to the current abundance of software vulnerabilities. This in turn fuels the hacker culture’s impetus to fully comprehend underlying standards and systems, which largely formalize hackers’ learning and work ethic. Among the sources hackers tap to acquire skills are classic textbooks highly rated by fellow hackers, electronic magazines, online forums dedicated to specific technical areas, source code from released tools, talks and private communications at hacker conventions, and IRC communities. Hackers have a tendency to adopt a cross-layer approach that tracks data through multiple tiers of interfaces, in accordance with three guiding principles. Bratus lists these principles as inspecting the system state or network on all levels down to the bit level; injecting arbitrary data into the system or network; and identifying and second-guessing deployment peculiarities. The author concludes that in many respects, hacker culture “produces impressive results that enrich other computing cultures, and its influence and exchange of ideas with these other cultures are growing. So, understanding the hacker learning experience and approaches is becoming more important day by day.”

Full article is here.

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