I've been thinking about system security and the people who
try to break it.
Scenario: I pretense my way into some corporate offices
and when nobody is watching photocopy a random selection of
documents from an unlocked filing cabinet. There is no
intent to sell or otherwise profit from this information.
After the fact, when I'm talking to the police about my
"break-in", I justify it as intended to highlight the
horrible physical security in most corporate offices. The
company whose information I acquired asserts the value of
the stolen material at several thousand dollars, so I get
tried for very serious crimes with a real potential for a
long jail term.
I honestly see no significant difference between what I
described and the all too common cracking that shows up in
the news every now and again. The difference is in the
perception. Crackers are (commonly) considered harmless
experimenters, doing it for the joy of learning and to show
the security flaws in most computer networks. A person
doing the more physical version (as described) is clearly
recognized as a criminal and few people would believe there
was no intent to profit.
I realize I'm barely scratching the surface of a very
serious set of questions. I believe, however, that the
Advogato group is more likely to have considered some of
these things than a similar random sampling of North
American society in general. As well, as (future) computer
professionals, we're much more likely to have had our lives
impacted by these types of activity.
Comments welcome ;)