With the rise of technology, came the rise of hacking. Hacking can be defined as “the act of compromising digital devices and networks through unauthorized access to an account or computer system.”  While it is synonymous with the development of the internet, the act of hacking began long before the introduction of personal computing. In the 1920’s, the Enigma Machine was an encryption machine used for German Military communications. The members of the allied forces were tasked with decoding the messages this machine produced, in order to keep an eye on their enemies communications. As a result, the allies were able to predict the movements of the German forces, which meant that “the war was won before it even started”. 
As technology developed over time and has increasingly become more ingrained in normal societal practices, the meaning of ‘hacking’ changed. In the 1960’s and 70’s, the phenomenon of Phone Phreaking marked the beginning of what we know as the modern history of hacking. So-called ‘Phone Phreakers’ were able to access the switchboards of telephone companies by playing a unique, high-pitched frequency, which gave them the ability to make long-distance and international calls for free, and helped establish the core ideals of the hacking subculture; anti-establishment and the freedom of information.
Then as personal computing became more prominent, the hacking subculture was able to contribute to the birth of cyberspace through Bulletin Board Systems. These systems were created for the purposes of sharing and posting information outside of government control , and serve as the blueprint for the development of the World Wide Web. The irony of this is, while they are portrayed as the menaces of the internet, the internet is how it is today because of hackers.
There are several different kinds of hacking. Firstly, there’s hacking for the purposes of criminal activity; often by distributing phishing scams and malware that steals information from users, which can be used for identity theft or fraud. This can be done through the use of ‘botnets’, which invade a computer’s software and can perform tasks without the user even knowing. Botnets can look for the vulnerabilities in a system, spread Trojan Horses, and distribute spam that can trick unsuspecting users into revealing personal information or financial details.  Botnets can also be used for cyberwarfare, which are “actions by a nation-state to penetrate another nation’s computers or networks for the purpose of causing damage or disruption.”, as defined in the novel, Cyber War.  While certain cyberwarfare strategies could be confused for just regular ‘hacking’, the reason for committing these acts is different. Cyberwarfare is typically for the purposes of surveillance and subversion. 
There’s also activism performed through hacking, more commonly known as ‘hacktivism’. Depending on the nature of the movement, certain phenomenon’s that the internet has popularised are able to serve ‘hacktivists’. One of these functions is Meme Warfare. Described by Jeff Giesea as “a ‘digital native’ version of psychological warfare, more commonly known as propaganda” , meme warfare has similar tropes to hacking subculture; such as the focus on globalisation, decentralised networks, and freedom of information. Ironically, it was the desire for the freedom of information that resulted in the meme warfare strategies of the CIA being uncovered by WikiLeaks (one of the most well-known cases of government hacking). Memetic warfare being analysed by government agencies indicates the legitimacy of memes as a military strategy.
Another tactic relevant to both cyberwarfare and hacktivism is ‘Sock Puppets’, which are fake online identities that give the illusion of human interactivity. ‘Sock puppet’ accounts are found on social media platforms and can be used in a variety of ways depending on the perpetrator. However, the goal of these bots remains the same, which is to manipulate public perception. “When we enter into relationships with an entity like Facebook (or Google, or Apple, or . . .) we still have the basic expectation that we are entering into a vaguely symmetric, human, relationship.”  When we see these accounts it isn’t always easy to distinguish between fake accounts and real people. As time progresses and AI technology improves, in the future it will be harder to determine which online movements or businesses have used ‘sock puppets’ to falsify support.
While new forms of processing have not been explicitly connected to hackers, they often are a result of similar ideologies to hacking subculture. We have seen blockchains such as Bitcoin and Ethereum form as a result of “an all-out rebellion against central banking and fiat currency.”  Another core trope of hacking subculture, anonymity, is deeply ingrained in the development of Bitcoin. The group/individual that created Bitcoin, Satoshi Nakamoto, is an anonymous developer, and all transactions on Bitcoin are designed to also remain anonymous. The blockchain of Bitcoin is a peer-to-peer network, meaning that the network is completely distributed and doesn’t need a ‘trusted third-party’ to oversee transactions. It’s also possible that botnets can be used to mine for this cryptocurrency, which could jeopardise the future of the institution.
Perhaps one of the most significant ways hacking can impact the future of the internet is through ‘The Internet of Things’. “The IoT stands for the connection of usually trivial material objects to the internet – ranging from tooth brushes, to shoes or umbrellas.”  It is becoming normalised to have these objects in the home or on our person, with smartwatches and smartphones being almost a necessity, and Google Homes and Alexa’s becoming more popular. At the moment, this makes up a relatively small percentage of our owned objects, but this won’t be the case forever. It’s reasonable to think that the future contains millions of households filled with IoT objects to create ‘Smart Homes’. If our future is filled with household objects being connected to the internet, what does this mean in terms of cyber security? Most of these items have access to some form of our private information, whether it be bank/card details, medical information, household bills, or confidential business documents. If hackers obtained this information, it could have devastating effects on both individuals and corporations.  Additionally, as these objects are tasked to perform specific actions in your home, it’s possible that hackers can override these instructions and gain physical control over a large number of households at once, not dissimilar to any futuristic film centred around AI.
As long as technology exists, hackers will always be around. The internet was built on the ideologies of hackers and this will continue to be a focus of many groups as the internet evolves. With technology further embedding itself in society, the question remains; how devastating of an effect could hackers have on our everyday lives?