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Hackers and Computer Science

Sergey Bratus
Chaos Communication Congress 27th (27C3) 2010
Indexed on
Mar 27, 2013
File name
File size
1.4 MB

Although most academics and industry practitioners regard "hacking" as mostly ad-hoc, a loose collection of useful tricks essentially random in nature, I will argue that hacking has in fact become a "distinct research and engineering discipline" with deep underlying engineering ideas and insights. Although not yet formally defined as such, it are these ideas and insights that drive the great contributions that hacking has been making to our understanding of computing, including the challenges of handling complexity, composition, and security in complex systems. I will argue that hacking uncovers and helps to understand (and teach) fundamental issues that go to the heart of Computer Science as we know it, and will try to formulate several such fundamental principles which I have learned from hacker research. At some point I realized that I was learning more about what really matters in computer science from hacker conventions, Phrack, Uninformed, and other hacker sources than from any academic source. Moreover, it wasn't just about exploits and vulnerabilities, it was about how systems were really designed, as opposed to how developers thought and students were taught they were. Then I realized that the reason for vulnerabilities that kept on giving were quite deeply theoretical and involved, e.g., theory of computation and information theory. Very little of this was quoted or understood in the academic publications.

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