Friday, February 7, 2014

The Chinese Hacker's Code

In 1984, Steven Levy suggested that there was a commonly understood but unwritten [American/European] "hacker code of ethics", that encompassed the values of sharing, openness, decentralization, free access to computers, and world improvement.

On many Chinese hacker sites I have found a written code of conduct, which is attributed to an influential Taiwanese hacker named CoolFire, who has his roots in the computer culture of the late 1990s. I will present that code of conduct below, but first I want to write out something about the connotations of the word "hacker" in Chinese.

The most common word for "hacker" in Chinese is 黑客, hēikè, derived phonetically from the English word "hacker". These two characters literally mean "black guest", which I think is a great way to describe a hacker's presence on your system. Unlike the English word "hacker", however, the Chinese hēikè seems to have a less negative, perhaps more ambiguous connotation.

The less common word is 骇客, hàikè, also derived phonetically from English "hacker", but with a literal meaning of "terrifying guest". This seems to be a more negative term, maybe more like cyber-criminal.

There is a strong association between hacking (hēikè) and patriotism in China, dating back to the earliest organizations and activities of hackers in the 1990s. This has given rise to another term, 红客, hóngkè, meaning "red guest". This is sometimes translated as "honker", but I'll render it as Red Hacker for now. (Not only does "honker" also mean someone from Hong Kong, but it sounds pejorative to me.)

Without further ado, here is a composite of the Chinese Hacker Code, drawn from several similar versions.

1. Do not sabotage any system. It will only bring you trouble.

2. Do not modify any system files. If you must do so to access a system, please restore them to their original state after you are done.

3. Do not casually hack a website and then tell friends whom you do not trust.

4. Do not talk about what you have hacked in a BBS or forum.

5. Do not use your real name when you post an article.

6. Do not leave your computer while you are actively engaged in invasion.

7. Do not invade or attack telecom/government organization servers.

8. Do not talk about what you have hacked over the phone.

9. Keep your notes in a safe place.

10. Read everything related to system security or vulnerabilities (learn English quickly!)

11. Do not delete or alter accounts on the systems you invade.

12. Do not modify system files, unless it is necessary to conceal your intrusion. In any case, maintain the security of the system, do not invade and disable the original security.

13. Do not share the accounts you have cracked with your friends.

14. Do not invade or destroy government organization servers.

15. If you can't program you can't be a good hacker.

16. Hackers are not "pirates".

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