The bad side or criminal side of the hacking community—the cybercrime variety. Black Hats’ practices include destructive computer exploits that occur because of the cracker’s motivations for revenge, sabotage, blackmail, or greed.
As with crimes not of a cyber nature, Black Hat exploits can result in harm to property and/or to people. In the computer underground, various types of Black Hats exist, with the most common being called “crackers”—those who engage in breaking into others’ computers systems without authorization, who dig into the code to make a copy-protected program run, who flood Internet sites and thus deny service to legitimate users, and who deliberately deface Websites out of greed or revenge. The special name of “phreakers” is given to those who use their hacking skills to fool telephony systems into giving them free telephone calls. “Destructive hacktivist” is the name given to those who pair their needs for political activism with their hacking skills, with the intent of causing permanent damage to some targeted system. “Cyberterrorist” is the name given to those who engage in unlawful attacks against computers or networks to advance the terrorists’ political objectives—which typically include causing harm to many of the targeted citizens. “Cyberstalker” is the name given to those who stalk their targets using, among other tactics, the computer to deliver threatening and offensive email with the motive of seeking revenge.
In 2005, physicians began fearing that a new type of Black Hat may enter the scene in the near future, and this kind, they fear, could actually kill someone with the click of a computer mouse. Although lauded by physicians as a device that has saved cardiovascular sufferers, the emerging technology of remote-from-home defibrillators is inciting security discussions among this educated segment. In fact, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has already approved ICSes, and companies have already begun to market ICDs—implantable cardioverter-defibrillators made to transmit a patient’s heart-monitoring data (including electrocardiograms) over telephone lines.
Although ICDs are meant to assist doctors in monitoring their patients’ heart conditions from geographical locations other than at the doctor’s office, the security concern lies around the remote relaying system, whereby the patient holds a wand above his or her chest and the information sent over the telephone line to the doctor is encrypted. Though the FDA has not yet approved physicians adjusting the defibrillator over the phone, the technology does allow this activity to occur. The fear, then, is that some ill-motivated Black Hat cracker will attempt to obtain—or adjust—this sensitive and life-threatening information of some targeted victim. The name given to this type of Black Hat presumably would be “ICD cracker.”
Adler, J. Hackers May Target Pacemaker Technology. [Online, February 24, 2005.] Seacoast Online Website. http://seacoastonline.com/news/02242005/news/66202.htm; Schell, B.H., Dodge, J.L., with S.S. Moutsatsos. The Hacking of America: Who’s Doing It, Why, and How. Westport, CT: Quorum Books, 2002.