A hacktivist answers common security questions

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Y0ur P@ssw0rd S*cks: A hacktivist answers common security questions

We asked a hacktivist questions that are commonly asked.


Mikael Thalen


Posted on Dec 12, 2023   Updated on Dec 13, 2023, 7:19 am CST

Y0ur P@ssw0rd S*cks is a bi-weekly column that answers the most pressing internet security questions web_crawlr readers have to make sure they can navigate the ‘net safely. If you want to get this column a day before we publish it, subscribe to web_crawlr, where you’ll get the daily scoop of internet culture delivered straight to your inbox.

You may know crimew as the hacktivist who discovered the TSA No Fly List on an unsecured server earlier this year, as exclusively reported by the Daily Dot. The discovery even spawned an internet meme, but that’s a story for another day.

We asked crimew three questions that are most commonly asked by those interested in the world of hacking.

First things first, what exactly is a hacker? It may seem like a silly question. While many people associate the term with criminal activity, hacker is a very broad term. Although the context of this conversation will center around computer hackers, a hacker doesn’t even have to be someone who focuses on electronic devices.

As crimew puts it: “A hacker is anyone who finds creative solutions to problems.”

So, what one piece of advice would a skilled hacker give to help everyday users stay safe online from nefarious actors? It’s much simpler than you’d think.

There’s a popular belief that criminal hackers are spending most of their time breaking into individual people’s social media accounts, leading to worry among many. But in reality, most hacks are done at scale. Criminal hackers steal passwords, credit card numbers, and health data from large databases, for example.

One of the best moves you can make, crimew says, is to keep all your software updated. Sometimes you’re worried that an update will introduce a new feature you aren’t excited about. We get it. But applying all your updates, especially those for your web browsers and operating systems, will help keep you from randomly getting hacked.

Also make sure to check out web_crawlr’s other security tips, which cover a wide array of topics related to everyday life in the digital age.

Now, an answer to the question you have almost certainly asked at some point: “Why haven’t hackers erased the student debt?”

It’s the most common thing people ask of hacktivists,” crimew says.

While everything is technically hackable, crimew says, many companies that handle student debt almost certainly have backups of the data both in digital and paper form. There is no one central server that handles all of America’s student debt that can be wiped forever.

It’s not the most feasible thing,” crimew says. “There are way more important aspects in which hacktivism could help with student debt. Like documenting corruption and potential price gouging in those companies and universities. Because there’s definitely shady shit going on.”

Of course, no one is calling on anyone to hack anything. Hacking things that aren’t yours without permission is illegal. So don’t do it, kids. But in a hypothetical sense, the likelihood that your student debt will get nuked by hackers is slim at best.

If you’re interested in learning more about crimew, check out her blog: https://maia.crimew.gay/

And as always, you can send your tech questions to be answered in the next Your Password Sucks column.

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*First Published: Dec 12, 2023, 6:00 am CST