Monday, August 11, 2008

Are Hackers Bad or Good? Boston and the MIT "T" Hackers

Here is the basic story as reported by
"The state of Massachusetts has asked a federal judge for a temporary restraining order preventing three MIT students from giving a presentation on Sunday about hacking smartcards used in the Boston subway system. The students are scheduled to give a presentation at the Defcon conference that they said would describe "several attacks to completely break the CharlieCard," an RFID card that the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority uses on the Boston T subway line. They also planned to release card-hacking software they had created. Massachusetts' request to halt the Defcon presentation was scheduled to be heard by a federal judge in Boston on Saturday. The suit, filed on Friday, also names the Massachusetts Institute of Technology as a defendant."

The Boston Glob article (link below) is very interesting because it takes this incident and asks some interesting questions about the role of hackers. Myself, I find it interesting that students so smart they can get into MIT are hacking - they see it is a service to expose security weaknesses. Government (in this case the Massachusetts transit people, want to silence and even punish hackers.

May the debate continue!

T -Interesting Comments by MIT student on "helping" by hacking!

August 10, 2008
You need to also check out the hacker conference. Are they a threat to us or are they the "testing service" for IT and Internet security holes? "Created in 1993, DEFCON claims on its website,, to be the oldest continuously running hacker convention in the world, drawing 3,000 to 5,000 people annually."

I suggest that we cooptate hackers and use their energy and skills to help us build a better Internet and security envelope.


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