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In Hacker Highschool, Students Learn To Redesign the Future 85

caseyb89 writes "Hacker Highschool is an after school program that teaches students the best practices of responsible hacking. The program is open source, and high schools across the country have begun offering the free program to students. Hacker Highschool recognized that teens are constantly taught that hacking is bad, and they realized that teens' amateur understanding of hacking was the cause of the biggest issues. The program aims to reverse this negative stereotype of hacking by encouraging teens to embrace ethical, responsible hacking."
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In Hacker Highschool, Students Learn To Redesign the Future

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  • by Impy the Impiuos Imp ( 442658 ) on Thursday August 09, 2012 @05:08PM (#40937971) Journal

    In Soviet Russia, high school hacks you.

  • by GerryGilmore ( 663905 ) on Thursday August 09, 2012 @05:14PM (#40938041)
    Actually, the word is "amateur", not "amature" - unkless you mean "not mature"....
    • by Anonymous Coward
      mmmmmm, the irony is palpable.
    • by Samantha Wright ( 1324923 ) on Thursday August 09, 2012 @05:21PM (#40938175) Homepage Journal
      But that of course would be "immature"—no, friends, "amature" is a fine example of a brilliant mondegreen malapropism, combining all the best features of the ambiguity of amorality with the passionate interest of amateurishness. It is the state of the teenager who has absolutely no idea what maturity is, and so proceeds through life passionately foolish. Like 4chan.
      • Or instead it might be used to refer to those individuals who, possessing the wisdom of experience, decide that the cultural demarcations of "maturity" are non-productive, even counter-productive, and cast them off in preference of a more childlike irreverence for propriety. I believe the traditional Taoist philosopher filled such a niche, and reportedly delighted in tweaking the nose of their rigidly proper Confucian contemporaries (In a playfully benevolent manner, of course. It's been said that neither

        • I'm pretty sure that's postmaturity. Postrock, postmodern, postmature.
        • Or instead it might be used to refer to those individuals who, possessing the wisdom of experience, decide that the cultural demarcations of "maturity" are non-productive, even counter-productive, and cast them off in preference of a more childlike irreverence for propriety. I believe the traditional Taoist philosopher filled such a niche, and reportedly delighted in tweaking the nose of their rigidly proper Confucian contemporaries (In a playfully benevolent manner, of course. It's been said that neither philosophy can be fully understood except in it's relation to the other)

          And suddenly the Hurd was enlightened.

    • I was scratching my head trying to figure out the intended meaning of that sentence. Thank you for the clarification.
  • by ackthpt ( 218170 ) on Thursday August 09, 2012 @05:17PM (#40938097) Homepage Journal

    The bad people just got the title 'Hacker' assigned by stupid, lazy people in the media -- you know, the kind who are utterly mistified as to why anyone would want to surf a web.

  • All defined by who you hack.

  • I thought it said "redesign the furniture".

  • This may be just what the great security-bureaucracy of the US finally needs to take over the internet; pestilent waves of freshly hatched script-kiddies defacing the front-pages of their overlords!
    Or will it conversely be the knowledge that the masses so vitally need to see clearly through the hysterical rhetoric of the cyber-paranoid?
    • maybe then a new wave of "hackers" will come along and drop sea mines on undersea fibre cables and launch antisat missiles at geostationaries over the US to isolate these fresh waves of script-kiddies
      • Surely a centrally-managed internet ID for all would mitigate against such atrocious acts of violence. I know I'd never drop a mine on sub-sea fiber-cables if I had to post comments with my real name -- and I'd not even dare launch a missile if SOPA or ACTA were in effect, nor do I suspect would the Chinese, or even worse; the Canadians. Maybe so. Maybe so. But now that I think of it, I'd never do these things anyway. But just in case someone else would, at least the authorities wouldn't need a pesky warran
    • by drkim ( 1559875 )

      They won't give written tests at the Hacker High School; when you enroll you are given an automatic "F."

      It's up to you to hack in and change it to an "A."

      • That actually would make for a reasonable curriculum and would be fun. Problem-solving, critical-thinking, with a tasty but menacing carrot dangling about.
        • by drkim ( 1559875 )

          ...come to think of it - might as well make it "PASS - FAIL."

          No one would hack in to give themselves a 'C!'

  • Loaded term. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by PeanutButterBreath ( 1224570 ) on Thursday August 09, 2012 @05:32PM (#40938299)

    "Hacker" is a loaded term. It might not be fair, but that is the fact of the matter. As such "Hacker Highschool" is doomed to attract everything from raised eyebrows to terminology-holy-wars. (Speaking of holy-wars, try having a rational discussion over the meaning of "jihad"). Maybe that is the point -- to attract attention. Whatever the case, concept of "hacking" is ill-served by the term.

    People should be curious, and free to pursue that curiosity in a responsible matter. That isn't something to learn, it is something to avoid un-learning. Once you have had it stamped out of your soul, I really wonder if you can pick it up again.

    • As such "Hacker Highschool" is doomed to attract everything from raised eyebrows to terminology-holy-wars.

      Perfect. Sounds like a gimme for easy publicity. Not only that but one of their main goals is to "reverse this negative stereotype of hacking by encouraging teens to embrace ethical, responsible hacking". So if they are doing good work that fits the original definition of hacking and part of their mission is to change the perception of the word hacking then what better way to do that than to associate good deeds with "Hacker Highschool".

    • (Satire)
      We all know that Hackers are terrorists, right? The EULA-Abiding masses should never be clicking anywhere outside the nice little boxes on the page.

      So we can power the state of Montana with the clash between National Security and Think of the Children, right?

      "Let's train our children to be terrorists!"

    • "Hacker" is a loaded term. It might not be fair, but that is the fact of the matter. As such "Hacker Highschool" is doomed to attract everything from raised eyebrows to terminology-holy-wars.

      The term is not all that bad, so they're bound to have more than a few parents interested in it.

      Plus, it's a term that will get the high school a fair share of free publicity for it. Branding-wise, I think they made the right call. A "computer programming high school" or a "computer science high school" simply would never attract the same level of attention.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    I refer you to the words of The Mentor, who can describe it better than I ever could:

    Another one got caught today, it's all over the papers. "Teenager Arrested in Computer Crime Scandal", "Hacker Arrested after Bank Tampering"...
    Damn kids. They're all alike.
    But did you, in your three- piece psychology and 1950's technobrain, ever take a look behind the eyes of the hacker? Did you ever wonder what made him tick, what forces shaped him, what may have molded him? I am a hacker, enter my world... Mine is a world that begins with school... I'm smarter than most of the other kids, this crap they teach us bores me...
    Damn underachiever. They're all alike.
    I'm in junior high or high school. I've listened to teachers explain for the fifteenth time how to reduce a fraction. I understand it. "No, Ms. Smith, I didn't show my work. I did it in my head..."
    Damn kid. Probably copied it. They're all alike.
    I made a discovery today. I found a computer. Wait a second, this is cool. It does what I want it to. If it makes a mistake, it's because I screwed it up. Not because it doesn't like me... Or feels threatened by me.. Or thinks I'm a smart ass.. Or doesn't like teaching and shouldn't be here...
    Damn kid. All he does is play games. They're all alike.
    And then it happened... a door opened to a world... rushing through the phone line like heroin through an addict's veins, an electronic pulse is sent out, a refuge from the day-to-day incompetencies is sought... a board is found. "This is it... this is where I belong..." I know everyone here... even if I've never met them, never talked to them, may never hear from them again... I know you all...
    Damn kid. Tying up the phone line again. They're all alike...
    You bet your ass we're all alike... we've been spoon-fed baby food at school when we hungered for steak... the bits of meat that you did let slip through were pre-chewed and tasteless. We've been dominated by sadists, or ignored by the apathetic. The few that had something to teach found us willing pupils, but those few are like drops of water in the desert. This is our world now... the world of the electron and the switch, the beauty of the baud. We make use of a service already existing without paying for what could be dirt-cheap if it wasn't run by profiteering gluttons, and you call us criminals. We explore... and you call us criminals. We seek after knowledge... and you call us criminals. We exist without skin color, without nationality, without religious bias... and you call us criminals. You build atomic bombs, you wage wars, you murder, cheat, and lie to us and try to make us believe it's for our own good, yet we're the criminals.

    Yes, I am a criminal. My crime is that of curiosity. My crime is that of judging people by what they say and think, not what they look like. My crime is that of outsmarting you, something that you will never forgive me for. I am a hacker, and this is my manifesto. You may stop this individual,but you can't stop us all... after all, we're all alike.

    +++The Mentor+++

    [May the members of the phreak community never forget his words -JR]

    Source: []

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday August 09, 2012 @05:40PM (#40938393)

    Now, my math may be a bit off, but I read through their "Lesson 12 - Passwords" and found this sentence:

    With a 2 letter password, and 26 letters in the alphabet, plus 10 numbers (ignoring symbols),
    there are 236 possible combinations (687,000,000 possibilities).

    And I can't for the life of me get those numbers. (26+10)^2 = 1296, right? Or if we count uppercase (26+26+10)^2 = 3844
    The square root (only two characters) of 687,000,000 is ~26,210. Last time I checked, there are not 26210 writable characters in our alphabet. Or in UTF-8 for that matter.

    Increase the password length to
    8 characters, and there are 836 combinations (324,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000

    836 combinations? Now im just confused. That's even less than 4 two letter passwords! (4*236 = 944)
    And where does that 323*10^30 possibilities come from?
    I can't be THIS bad at math, can I ?

    • maybe its really training to make potential hackers more stupid

      ps. i couldn't figure out how they get 687 million possibilities for a 2 character password with only alphanumeric characters either, and i'm supposed to be an engineer (though i'll admit to anyone that i need a calculator to add numbers together). actually i'm not even sure of what is meant by combinations and possibilities. i haven't done combinatorics for a long time, but i thought combinations=possibilities (think of cracking a safe combi
    • by Anonymous Coward

      I think it's a typographic mistake and 236 is meant to be 2^36 (superscript got lost somewhere). That's 68,719,476,736 (so their calculator isn't working either). This also explains the "836 combinations", which they mean to be 8^36 (3.24E32). Of course all of these numbers are horribly wrong. The same text with the same typographic mistake and the same wrong math appears several times on the Internet, but the lesson is dated 2004, so it may well be the source of those copies.

      There used to be "bomb building

    • Good catch - and one of the errors in the 2004 version that we caught in the review process for the 2012 edition. You'll see the new versions begin to arrive on the download page of soon. Give the new lesson a read when we've finished reviewing and release it. I think you'll appreciate how far we've been able to raise the quality of the curriculum, mostly because of a really terrific group of contributors. If you're this careful a reader, we'd be glad to have you join us. Glenn Norman H
  • "Hacking is bad" (Score:5, Insightful)

    by jmerlin ( 1010641 ) on Thursday August 09, 2012 @05:44PM (#40938427)
    I don't recall this being an issue when I was in highschool (a mere 6-10 years ago). There weren't too many resources to encourage learning and advancement in computer science outside of your really basic CS courses and AP programs that taught Java (3 or 4?), and how uninspired they were. I think that was the main issue. Lack of resources. I ended up buying K&R, Stroustrup, Irvine, and some other college-level texts and reading myself to learn. If I had much more resources available to me, I would've been years ahead of that even. By the time I was in my first year of college, I already knew more than the 4 years at university would have taught me (sans a few algorithms, but that was later corrected with Intro to Algorithms, which was far better than anything on our curriculum). This prompted me to change my major because outside of a top-5 CS school, there wasn't the available resources and people to really push me. Math, however, was suitable, and far more difficult, I found. I had to spend a lot of my own free time finding resources to fuel my desire to learn. I think this was the main problem, between 5-10 years ago in terms of educating young hackers. Finding the odd RCE paper, agner's papers, some defcon/blackhat stuff, leading to more research papers from people at MIT/Stanford/etc was the real source of insight for me, outside of some classic CS texts. To this day, those fields still have a very high barrier to entry, and not for any good reason I can tell.

    As far as "hacking is bad", in 8th grade I pointed out that I could access my teacher's drive containing grade books from our lab, circumventing the group policy that prevented me from opening a 'Run' box or 'My Computer' or navigating there in explorer. I just opened up anything with a Save As, knowing that dialog wasn't at the time tied to policies and navigated over to network places and could see everything, and everything was on public shares (WTF upon WTF). I got kicked out of the lab for a day for pointing that out, and I don't know if they ever fixed it, but that was the extent of punishment there for "hacking." I also nearly got fired from my first job in college for attempting to implement a roaming trojan on our CS lab's computers (they had this annoying habit of restarting after 15 minutes of inactivity when logged off with DeepFreeze). Since we had administrative access via our logins, the idea was to write a simple tool that would bounce from computer to computer like a fire, keeping it alive even though DeepFreeze was installed on the lab (the only way to extinguish it would be to reboot the entire lab at once). The reason? Our files for projects were stored on network drives in a heavily firewalled lab-accessible only location. And that's also where we were to submit homework. So instead of being able to submit homework from another lab on campus (there were quite a few more), or from wireless, we had to go over to the CS lab during lab hours, log-in (took 15 minutes sometimes), and somehow manage to move our files to the lab machine (USB or e-mail, fun times) and then finally copy them into the homework directory. My goal was to have that trojan running in the lab and have it connect out on port 80 to a server of mine so I could submit my homework at any time from anywhere (hallelujah!). Nevertheless, while trying to break some things, I inadvertently e-mailed myself some toolage to my university e-mail address instead of gmail, which got flagged by the antivirus, and which got my boss asking "why are you sending yourself this tool" which then led to them noticing I sent it from one of the CS lab computers, which meant I had the actual files on a lab computer.. ouch. Simple mistakes, yeah?

    It's never been about the malice. It's always because a roadblock is in the way: how do I get around it, or an incredibly difficult question being posed: how do I make this do what I want? And that way of thinking about everything is why I have the skills I have today, and why I was interested in CS. I think
  • If I was a young geek I'd much rather be hacking Arduino or Lego Mindstorms...

    • smack you for suggesting that hackers could possibly be anything other than cool sunglasses wearing superhumans who always take the red pill... actually i think seeing sandra bullock in "The Net" was enough to put me off hacking for the rest of my life

      ps. mindstorms is awesome
  • by Stormy Dragon ( 800799 ) on Thursday August 09, 2012 @10:24PM (#40941289) Homepage

    ...everyone gets F's. If they can't figure out how to break in and change it to a better grade, they don't deserve to pass.

  • Gag me with a bar of soap.

"I prefer the blunted cudgels of the followers of the Serpent God." -- Sean Doran the Younger