Hacking is the art of making the impossible possible.
Hacking is the art of making the impossible possible.

0xCOFFEE anyone?

How hackers have a lean coffee

I publicly vowed never to write anything about agile again a few days ago. Being frustrated with the lack of interaction or response from the agile community, I abandoned everything and everyone agile. Obviously not my tribe and time for me to give up. If what I had to say was wanted by the agile community there would be more responses, more likes, more something. But I feel like a lone ranger lost in the desert.

An utter tech-addict though, I couldn’t stay away and fooled myself into thinking that going to a hacker meet-up wouldn’t only be tech-guru’s in one room and there would be no mention of the word agile. I was wrong. Agile is everywhere. Like the matrix.

It’s up to you…

But refreshingly, this time the conversation didn’t revolve around agile or code, but interesting real world scenarios and how code is used. It wasn’t a religion that was being studied, it was simply viewed as a tool to get results, much like you need an editor to write code. Which one you use or how you use it is up to you.

How you use agile is also up to you.

Turned out to be the best meetup I’ve ever attended with more free-thinking and passionate people together than what I’ve met the past 5 years combined probably! It reminded me of my introduction to technology and why I fell in love with it in the first place.

Tribe and tribulation

I was always outnumbered as one of only a few females interested in technology and felt right at home when I walked into an all-male group sitting comfortably in a lounge area with music to go with it and decor to match the relaxed ambiance.

As everyone ordered a drink of their choice (no one ordered coffee…), we simply relaxed into dreaming up fantastic worlds where nothing was impossible and talked about hacks and security and wondered whether Google has forgotten their mission of making data accessible and usable to the world as all they seem to use it for is advertising and making money.

There was no agenda, no structure, no rules. If you wanted to talk to someone, you did. If you felt like changing the topic, you did. It was just a bunch of guys (and one girl) who could think of nothing better to do over Saturday lunch than spend it with kindred spirits talking about the subject they love most.

The true meaning of hacking was at play, with my definition “making the impossible possible”. I loved it.

This is the kind of people I want to work with. People who you can have a beer with. People who you don’t have to behave professionally with all the time or try to be perfect. People where conversations ebb and flow between personal stories and technology, where the human and the employee is the same person. People where everyone can be themselves.

The sad thing is, most companies don’t have this and most people don’t do work which they feel so passionate about that they would spend the weekend talking about it.

Most people I ask what they’re passionate about can’t answer me. Most people don’t have a topic they are so interested in that they are start bubbling from the inside when they talk about it.

I start bubbling inside when I talk about technology, education and alternative healthcare. I can’t even get all the words out so excited I get to talk about it.

What makes you bubble inside?

A bit of privacy

But I digress. Our coffee centered around security and hacking and the reason why I went there in the first place was because I was hacked a while ago. I wanted to get into the mind of a hacker and understand why on earth you would invade someone’s personal space uninvited. Hacking to me being the worst form of crossing boundaries and a show of disrespect towards the person you are hacking. If I treated them with disrespect, maybe I deserved it, but in this case, I felt violated, breached, taken advantage of. Worst of all, it cost me money unable to attend to scheduled work.

From the hacker’s point of view, it’s fun. It’s a challenge. It’s ultimately a search for recognition. Being able to go to one of the top players in technology having hacked their account is like a personal badge of achievement indicating you’re better than the best.

I get that. Who wouldn’t want that. I don’t think anyone would mind getting attention from a top player. But to all the hackers out there — do you realize the impact on the people you hack? It’s no different from bullying. Both is taking advantage of the weakness and innocence of someone else in order for you to feel more powerful.

The question is why would someone not trust anyone else? Why would you want to build such a big fence around you to keep everyone out? Is it really to feel safe? Because from my perspective, the people who feel safe are the people who openly share their passwords with their peers. The people who feel safe don’t mind being transparent. People who feel safe trust that the people they deal with has their best interest at heart. They get the respect from the people they work with because they trust them. It’s the baddies that mostly need a bodyguard, not the goodies. It’s people who live in fear that own a gun. People who trust sleep with their doors open and leave the key under the floormat.

When you don’t trust someone you need to keep secrets, you need to lock away your passwords, you need to use https and not just http. It’s also a lack of trust that requires management as a function. If there was enough trust you wouldn’t need someone to check whether you are doing your job or tell you what to do. I haven’t met anyone who likes being micro-managed, so why on earth would you want to willingly break trust by hacking?

Immunity and immunization

Hacking, like all things, is not all bad. In fact, I think there is more good about hacking than there is bad. Hacking is what turns science fiction into reality. Hacking is what makes the impossible possible. Hacking breaks barriers and moves humanity forward. Hacking shows the weak spots in a system, allowing you to strengthen it, and to be honest, I wouldn’t mind seeing a lot more hacking for this purpose (and done with good intention).

An example. I recently had to do an international bank transaction and what was supposed to be a quick transfer, ended up taking hours and about 10 printed pages, most of these containing some inaccuracy, yet I was asked to sign with the wrong information on the page.

When I pointed out that it’s crazy to ask me to sign to confirm my details but the system hasn’t updated the details, they said to just sign. It’s procedure. The system will update the information later. They can’t process the transaction without the signature, even if it meant that I’m in effect committing fraud signing that my address details are accurate, which is the reason why they ask me to sign in the first place. To have proof that I gave the correct details.

The irony is that I was made to fill in three separate forms to do the same change of address, a triplicate in waste, and still the final form contained the wrong information. Had I not pointed out part of the broken process, the person helping me never would have remembered to make me fill in yet another form, yet they proudly claim to have due diligence. In my opinion, all they have is unhappy customers, wasted time and a huge bill to an auditor who obviously isn’t worth their money.

What upsets me is that the customer is charged exuberant fees for these inconvenient and inaccurate transactions. The same bank phoned to confirm the bank details, just to phone me a few days later saying that the bank information is incorrect. Why people keep paying for these services that have no point of service to the customer blows my mind. Why no-one complains I simply don’t get.

In this case, I think a hacker would do the world a favor by pointing out this weakness to the bank, as they refuse to listen to the customers. So too I would feel creating a hack to block adds is a brilliant service and a hack to become anonymous on a browser to stop Google and Microsoft and all the other companies collecting personal data from people would be great as they have not proven that they are using it in our best interest.

But as much as I feel our immune system needs to be strong, I am strongly opposed to immunization. Strengthening the immune system is pointing out weaknesses in the systems that is already weak, immunization is hacking someone’s personal account and breaching trust, it’s like intentionally breaking the system to get in uninvited, not merely finding the weak spot. When everyone breaches this trust and respect, imagine what the world would look like. I sure wouldn’t want to live there.

So next time before you think of breaching someone’s personal space, just ask yourself how you would feel if the same happened to you?

Are you hacking for the greater good or for personal power?

Originally published on Medium: https://funficient.medium.com/0xcoffee-anyone-673f4419273b