Hacking by Solis Tech: How to Hack Computers, Basic Security and Penetration Testing (2014)
Chapter 10: Hacking Skills: Proper Writing
Learning how to use the World Wide Web is another fundamental skill every hacker should learn. This means learning its basic markup language- HTML. Just like when trying to communicate, hacking would also require good writing skills. In this case, you should learn how to write properly with HTML. It will be difficult to understand and uninteresting to communicate with someone who can’t be understood; this is true even in the world of hacking.
Differences in Hacking Writing Styles
Differences in writing styles can make create misunderstanding and miscommunication. At a glance, it may not make much of a difference. But on closer inspection, it means a lot.
There isn’t any difference there, or is there? Look closer. In the first phrase, the period was placed after the double quote. In the second phrase, the period was placed before the double quote. In American English grammar, this is already a very prickly topic; it is even more so in programming. These extra and misplaced characters can be a real pain in the neck. Creating the desired outcome or solving errors can be really tricky and time consuming because each character would have to be scrutinized in each line.
This small yet vital issue can also make it difficult when communicating small portion of codes or command lines. Remember that hacking is a culture a community where hackers from different parts of the world communicate and share information. Ineffective communication skills would make this very difficult. Hence, there is a need for every hacker to be fluent in communicating, especially in using written language.
Take a look at this example:
Delete one line from a file by entering “dd”.
In standard usage, this would have to be written as:
Delete one line from a file by entering “dd.”
The first instruction would mean entering “dd”. However, if using the standard usage of placing the period before the double quote, then the receiver of the instructions would type “dd.” (d-d-dot). In the programming language, placing a dot after a command would require the program to repeat that last command. It’s just a simple placement of a character (period) but can produce different results. Typing (d-d) would delete only 1 line while (d-d-dot) would delete 2 lines.
To reduce the confusion, hackers have their own style of writing, which often goes beyond the standard grammatical usage. The rules are usually based on rules of British English grammar and other languages like Catalan, Spanish, Italian, German and French, particularly when dealing with special characters and punctuations.
Hacker Unique Writing Styles
Remember that in hacking, it’s mainly communicating through written texts. However, these special characters are used in order to provide some emotion and emphasis to the words. These are used in order to give a tone to the strings of texts, giving the recipient/reader a clearer idea as to what these texts mean (i.e., reducing ambiguity).
Hackers have different meanings to the use of single quotation marks and double quotes. Singe quotes are used to mark parts or texts. Double quotes are used for actual reports of texts or speech taken from elsewhere.
Unix hackers that use email have a tendency to use lowercase characters all throughout. They use lowercase for usernames, C routines, and command names. Even if the names or words occur at the beginning of a sentence, lowercase characters are still used.
The main reason behind all these “special” hacker writing styles is that hacking requires precision and not much focus on conformity to grammar rules. Traditional rules can create ambiguity, such as in the examples given above.
Also, hacker communication has more meanings and carries certain emphasis based on how they are written. For instance, texts written in ALL CAPS are considered “loud”. This is one of the common understanding in the online world, including the hacker community that talking (writing) in ALL CAPS is similar to shouting in real life.
Bracketing using unusual characters is also one of the peculiarities in hacking language (for instance, bracketing word or words with asterisks). In standard, traditional writing, asterisks are often used for footnoting. In hacker writing, it is a form of emphasis. Also, how the asterisks were used also signifies something.
Ø *What* *the* *hell* (speaking slowly and putting emphasis on every word)
Ø What the *hell* (speaking normally and putting emphasis on the word “hell”)
Ø *What the hell* (speaking normally or a bit faster and louder, emphasis on the entire sentence)
Also, asterisks may be used in texts to indicate that an action is or has happened. For example:
Angle bracket enclosures may also be used for the above instances. These can be used to separate certain words and denote them to be sounds or actions such as:
Angle brackets may also be used to denote random members of a particular larger class. These can be used as an attempt to provide a more vivid picture of something or someone. For example:
This <blonde> girl walked in…
The <Microsoft> operating system can be quite challenging to hack.
That user’s <hack> code is pretty difficult to crack.
Underscores are also commonly used in hacker writing, but for a different purpose. When underscores are used, it signifies that the words are to be read as underlined. Putting slashes before and after a word is commonly interpreted as placing the word in italics. There are so many other special characters used in the hacking communication. These will eventually be learned as the hacking activity progresses.