GeoHot – Hacking, Morals and Law Makers

Geohot

In the world of hacking, there are few polarizing figures. Few decide to step out of the shadows in any sort of formal way. GeoHot is one of the few that is a fairly household name at this point. Most folks in the world of iOS and Playstation hacking know his work. GeoHot, George Hotz, was the first to unlock the iPhone and also busted the PS3 security. Two epic hacks will get you attention, not all of it positive.

GeoHot was sued by Sony shortly after the release of his Playstation hack. The official charge was for violating the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, but really because he exposed a major weakness in their security. Playing bootlegged games was one of the things that came from GeoHot’s hack. He was able to settle his case outside of court with Sony without admitting any wrongdoing, which many view as an absolute win on his part, myself included.

Steve Wozniak, co-founder of Apple, commented on the matter saying, “It was like a story out of a movie of someone who solves an incredible mystery.” Woz went on to say, “I understand the mind-set of a person who wants to do that, and i don’t think of people like that as criminals. In fact, I think that misbehavior is very strongly correlated with and responsible for creative thought.”

A quote from GeoHot has struck much intrigue. GeoHot was quoted as saying, “I live by morals, I don’t live by laws.” Finishing the thought by saying, “Laws are something made by assholes.”

This quote has left some thinking of the hacker as smug and cocky. I disagree with that sentiment in that, I believe GeoHot is simply saying that he believes more in the spirit of the law instead of the letter of the law. I tend to agree, I understand that many laws don’t explicitly state something but we are humans and the laws were meant to be interpreted by humans.

George has openly condemned the attacks on Sony by Anonymous. In his comments, he made the distinction between someone who like to see how things work as opposed to trying to cause harm on others. GeoHot is now an employee of Facebook. He has since sat down with a team of engineers at Sony to explain how he was able to topple their security. Pretty impressive story for a guy who simply wanted to dig into devices he purchased and see what he could get in to. I can help but think of the book “Ghost in the Wires” by Kevin Mitnik when i heard stories of GeoHot. Check out the book if you dig stories such as this one.

{Image – flickr}

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