Hacking used to mean you adapted the tool to the task, which is a reversal of the usual backward thinking of people in civilizations, which is that they pick tasks for which they have the tools.
Hacking meant facing the fear of not being able to do something, or having no starting point, and working up a version 1.0b — a “hack,” or effective but not necessarily elegant starting point you could later refine through the process the Japanese call kaizen, or incremental enhancement — even if you didn’t have the schooling, money, experience, or support of law or morality of ownership.
Nowadays, hacking means infiltrating big networks with automated tools to profit from the wholesale filtration of information:
A vast electronic spying operation has infiltrated computers and has stolen documents from hundreds of government and private offices around the world, including those of the Dalai Lama, Canadian researchers have concluded.
In a report to be issued this weekend, the researchers said that the system was being controlled from computers based almost exclusively in China, but that they could not say conclusively that the Chinese government was involved.
…the system, which they called GhostNet, was focused on the governments of South Asian and Southeast Asian countries.
Still going strong, the operation continues to invade and monitor more than a dozen new computers a week, the researchers said in their report, â€œTracking â€˜GhostNetâ€™: Investigating a Cyber Espionage Network.â€
That’s both awesome and terrifying, as all things of great power should be.
Thanks to HOU2600 member Red Dog, we have a copy of the report [ghostnet.pdf].