How To 'Hack' in 15 Minutes


Thousands of guides are available on the internet for free for anyone who wants to take their first steps as a hacker.

On YouTube alone, there are already more than 20,000 videos available that teach users to explore other users' accounts. All of them have millions of visits.


Concerned about this situation, the insurance company CPP carried out an experiment in which five people were taught to hack an email account in just 14 minutes. Despite being unfamiliar with new technologies, the five participants managed to find out other people's passwords simply by following the steps of an online guide.


"I was very surprised how easy and fast it was to download the software and get the details of someone in minutes. Seeing the usernames and passwords appear on the screen was shocking," Emma Comans, a television producer, told BBC Mundo who participated in the experiment. "Everyone knows the dangers of some online activities, but what people may not know is how easy it is to learn to do them," Danny Harrison, an expert on Identity Theft at CPPGroup, explained to BBC Mundo.


Harrison warns that many users are not aware of the danger this poses and this translates into a lack of prevention: "Most people use antivirus on their PCs but not on their mobile phones, for example."


But, is it okay for this type of video to be available to the public in the virtual world?


For Rebecca Jeschke, Director of Media at the Electronic Frontier Foundation, the fact that these videos are exposed to the public on YouTube is a good thing. 

"This way, people can become aware of the vulnerabilities in their email and other accounts, and how other people take advantage of it." "Knowing these videos, you can protect yourself better. Pretending that hacking is not possible does not help anyone," he told BBC Mundo.


In addition, if one takes into account that the internet was created with the idea of ​​being a free medium where everything flowed without restrictions or censorship, the existence of these guides would confirm the right to freedom of information, but where then is the right to freedom of information? privacy of victims?


Collision of rights

Since its inception, "the internet and freedom have become synonymous for many people around the world", points out the renowned Spanish sociologist Manuel Castells in his article "Internet, freedom and society: an analytical perspective". Its creators, according to Castells, determined an open architecture that was difficult to control. "One of the most difficult issues is that the Internet is neither regulated nor restricted most of the time. The question is then what to do with cases like these guides?", Considers Harrison.


To those who would prefer that material of this style had no place on the web, experts point out that network regulation is difficult, if not almost impossible.


"From a technological point of view, deploying mechanisms to totally prevent the possibility of putting this information on the internet is extremely complex," Sergio Castillo, from the Department of Information and Communications Engineering at the Autonomous University of Barcelona.


Despite admitting that banning these types of videos on the internet is difficult, Harrison believes that, although there is always someone who breaks the rules, at least the law would help make this type of information not available so easily.


Castillo, on the other hand, believes that it will be difficult to reach the day when there is universal regulation. "In the first place, because that would imply a complex coordination of many countries and, secondly because that would directly undermine the principle of freedom that has always been evident on the internet." "Also, at what point does regulation limit our freedoms?" Faced with such a thorny picture, who is then responsible for the limits of the internet? Governments or users themselves?


What counts is the intention

"Really, with the information that exists today in the network, a self-taught person has enough information to acquire this knowledge. There are pages, forums and online communities in which you can train on these topics",


And at this point, all computer experts emphasize the importance of differentiating between hacking and cracking. "If you are going to talk about us hackers, please avoid the mistake of thinking that 'hacking' means 'breaking computer security'. That is 'cracking'. 'Hacking' is broader, it means having fun using your intelligence in a playful spirit ", stated Richard Stallman, President of the Free Software Foundation, in conversation with BBC Mundo.


Hacking, cracking ... With this scenario, it may be best to follow the advice of British intellectual Stephen Fry. The writer, comedian and actor suggested the idea of ​​conceiving the virtual world as the real one. So the web world would be like any city, with some dangerous sites and some fabulous ones.


In your city, you decide what to do with the means and resources you have. It is not only the law that forces you to act in one way or another, but also the ethics and morals that guide us as people.


Maintaining the principles of freedom while protecting our privacy is not an easy task, but perhaps the key to balance is taking our lives online following the advice of the old phrase "Your freedom ends where someone else's begins."

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