Tuesday, February 10, 2004

On Meta-Hacking

Ok. There's a concept thats been burning in my mind for quite some time now. I'm fairly certain I've touched on it before. That concept is Meta-Hacking. It was first introduced to me by Simple Nomad's article on his NMRC page (viewable in it's entirety here: Simple Nomad's DefCon 11 Rant):

To understand the truth about something like a computer is to not only understand how the components fit together, how they interact, when they can be bent or broken, when you can exploit sublevels of trust between components to bypass a control -- it is also about understanding that computer's placement within a network of others. Understanding that the computer, whether placed in the home or in the office, is a reflection of the user that stores their data on it. Understanding that the data itself, when coupled with other computers on the network near it, tell such interesting stories, like who controls the company, who hides the company secrets, or who controls the cash flow. Hacking business processes, hacking corporate culture, controlling the flotsam and jetsam in the digital flow. And hacking becomes meta-hacking. Imagine tying companies within the same industry together at this level, then industries, then governments and nation states.

Is that too big? No. We cannot think in those terms anymore. Like it or not, hacking has changed. We have to think big. Hacking is not just about seeing the limits of a computer system, or even the limits of the political world that has risen up around the modern-day hacker. Hacking is about understanding the system, the complete system. You must hack yourself. Not the digital self, because there is truly no division anymore. We are plugged in, and there ain't no going back. We *have* to hack ourselves. Not just the surface tension that is wrapped in a nym, but the core of your hacker self. Explore mental ring zero. Live to hack, and hack to live.

This is the future of meta-hacking, not just controlling the operating system, but controlling and influencing what the operators of that system do -- whether those operators do what they do for good or ill, and whether that system is a computer, a political set of ideals, or your own thought processes.

Others trained in my discipline can certainly understand this raw concept. We, as traditional old-school hackers, believe that computers or even electronic systems can be manipulated even in ways in which the system was not originally designed. That's the basis of hacking isn't it? Even in the realm of crackers, the bad guys exploit systems to attain entry which leads to data theft or whatever arbitrary digital prize. Now with this foundation, is it possible to extend this concept to the real world? How about to the metaphysical world? Could the methods employed by brilliant hackers be used to in the real world. Instead of making a poorly coded binary surreptitiously invoke a root shell could one use the similar principles and methodologies to for example secure a highly sought job or even to seduce a highly elusive woman? I'm sure hundreds of parallel ideas exist in psychology (Neuro Linguistic Programming) or self-help texts that attempt to accomplish the same thing: increased control of one's life. Meta-Hacking is different only in that it is based on technology... but in reverse. After all, wasn't computer logic built to mirror the logic of the human brain? Could a reverse relationship be utilized to accomplish goals in the real world? Trust me, I'll expand on this further...

At least she admits it

suntzu: hey.. i gotta go to my annual conference this yr
suntzu: choices are
suntzu: portland, honolulu, colorado springs, chicago, vancouver, balitimore
suntzu: hehehe
m: hawaii would be AWESOME
m: i'd go
m: ;)
suntzu: i was thinking chicago or vancouver.. more realistic
suntzu: and besides.. me and you in hawaii.. that would be dangerous
m: me and you anywhere is dangerous
m: why do you think i've said no?

Resistance is futile baby girl...