Website lets hackers boast of exploits, earn points
Mon Aug 22 2011
Vanessa Lu Business Reporter
Computer hackers who lurk in the shadows as they wreak havoc on systems and networks now have their own place to brag and boast. That’s the premise of the new website, rankmyhack.com, where hackers can report their successes, compare techniques and compete with one another for points, just like a video game.
The website, only about a month old, invites hackers to submit proof of website hacks “in exchange for ranking points that earn you a place on the leader board of legends.”
The bigger the site, the bigger the points.
“So have you got what it takes to be the best?” the website asks hackers.
Some of the best-known hackers operate under the Anonymous banner, targeting corporations such as Sony or the U.S. government, but the irony of this website is not lost on observers like Queen’s University media studies professor Sidneyeve Matrix.
“Hacking and anonymity go together,” she said. “At first glance, this is like the polar opposite of Anonymous. But they’re still using pseudonyms.”
The top hacks listed on rankmyhack.com include Huffington Post, Google, Yahoo and Map Quest, along with pseudonyms for the hackers. The site also includes a section with links to online hacking resources including tools, forums and tutorials.
The site was started by a hacker named Solar, who told the New York Times in an email interview that he was a computer science student in Britain, with hopes of a career in computer security.
He acknowledged hacking illegally to develop his skills, but said he’d never engage in criminal acts such as fraud, according to the New York Times.
It’s unclear whether this venture will land him a job, but Matrix said some companies may be drawn here for tech talent.
“I think hacking is becoming recognized as a legitimate form of social protest, even though it is illegal, and so wrong,” said Matrix, calling it a targeted anti-establishment action, pitting the little guy against a big corporation.
“I think it’s also about the gamification of hacking,” she said, comparing it to niche social networks like Four Square, where participants can earn points and move their way up a leader board in their community.
Matrix believes there will be pressure from law enforcement and government to shut down this type of site.
But the biggest lure will be for the hacker who can hack into this website.
“They know who is going to be on the site. It’s all about respect for the most elegant hack,” she said. “For sure, somebody will try to take down this site to prove it can be done or because they disagree with this type of publicity or gamification.”