Ghosts in the machine: the real hackers hiding behind the cliches of TalkTalk and Mr Robot

Simon Parkin writes:

The portrait of the hacker as an antisocial, lonesome deviant is pervasive and seemingly indelible. This week, for example, the British tabloids rounded on a child who has been arrested in connection with the hacking of telecommunications provider TalkTalk’s porous servers in order to access customers’ personal data. The Daily Mail’s front page referred to him as “a baby-faced loner who rarely leaves his bedroom”. The Sun described the boy, who lives on a council estate with his single mother in Ballymena, Northern Ireland, and who suffers from learning disabilities and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, as “reclusive”. He is, they continued, an avid player of video games, as if such a detail distinguishes this particular teenager from any other. The Mirror quoted a neighbour who described the boy as “quiet and shy”. He was often seen, she added, with a skateboard, although there was no mention whether or not his baseball cap was worn in the style of Bart Simpson: anarchically askew.

Read more on The Guardian, where Simon incorporates some of the research on hackers.

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