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Culture

Networking with hackers

Social network for hackers aims to be information and social hub for people who like to tinker with technology.

On Facebook, you can poke your friends and test your movie compatibility. On the House of Hackers social network, members share information about securing computer systems, exploiting vulnerabilities, and all sorts of things related to hacker culture.

House of Hackers

Some people think of hackers as the bad guys who break into computer networks and steal data. In actuality, the term can be applied not just to people who circumvent computer security, but to home computer builders like Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak, open-source programmers, and people who in general like to tinker with technology, test the limits of information systems, and think outside the box.

It's with this broad definition in mind that Petko D. Petkov launched House of Hackers, the first social network devoted to the often-maligned group. London-based Petkov is the founder of information security think tank GNUCitizen (no relation to the GNU open-source operating system).

Petkov writes in his blog introducing the site, "We do not promote criminal activities." Still, the site is likely to attract hackers of all stripes--white hat, gray hat, and black hat hackers--as they are referred to depending on their motivation.

Unlike Facebook, there aren't a lot of personal photos and information on profiles here. This group prefers to talk about ideas rather than post photos of themselves and announce what they did last night.

Unveiled a month ago, the site now has about 4,000 members who share their ideas in blogs, announce events, and discuss diverse topics in groups with names like Life Hacker; Urban Explorers (an examination of the normally unseen or off-limits parts of human civilization); Black PR (public relations with a negative twist); Female Hackers; IT Professionals, and Reversing (for people who like to take things apart and see how they work).

There are also groups devoted to topics like hacker movies, open-source security, wireless and mobile device security issues, electronic music, cryptology, cross-site scripting attacks, iPhone cracking, and hackers from countries around the globe.

"I wanted to aggregate in a single place people interested in hacker culture, security, people trying to find solutions to interesting problems," he said in an interview Monday.

The goal is to bring people to together to share ideas, collaborate on projects, and eventually create a recruitment market for independent security consultants, he said. Toward that end, Petkov will be working on a system to verify job experience, training, and performance.

Whether companies will come a-hiring remains to be seen. But for those who want to see what today's digital rebels are up to, this site offers a glimpse.