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Hacker Myths and Realities in Girl With The Dragon Tattoo

Have you seen the movie Girl With the Dragon Tattoo? The movie is based on the book of the same title by Swedish author Stieg Larsson. The main character is a girl who lives with asperger’s syndrome and has an amazing ability to hack information. She uses her skills to help a journalist solve a mystery. This representation of a computer hacker is realistic in some ways, but misses the mark in others.

Poster from the Girl With the Dragon TattooReality: The young hacker, Lisbeth Salander, goes by the alias “Wasp” when she’s involved in computer hacking. Some hackers, especially notorious ones that have been caught and publicized or those who use their skills to point out flaws in security systems (known as “white hat” hackers), are known by their legal names. However, many hackers have an internet “handle” or code name that they’re known by.

Reality+Myth: Lisbeth has a “lone wolf” sort of hacking persona but does communicate with other hackers in what seems to be a vey loosely organized context. They know each other by their handles and communicate mostly via the internet, sharing tips and helping one another occasionally. According to “The social organization of a criminal hacker network: a case study” by Yong Lu, this sort of hacker community does exist in some cases. However, there are also networks that are far more akin to a professional crime ring, where a hierarchy exists and and the work load is very specifically shared among members.

Lu characterizes this sort of network as being a fairly recent phenomena. While hackers of old tended to use their skills for Continue reading Hacker Myths and Realities in Girl With The Dragon Tattoo