Gasp. Did a *girl* hack HB Gary?

Mar 21 2011 Published by under security, women

A 16 year-old girl?

But that's impossible! Girls don't even know what computers are, let alone how to do something as complex as launching a SQL injection attack*.

Clearly this must be a ploy by Anonymous. It's all men in Anonymous. There are no girls on the internet!

This trope is a common one that the media does little to dispell. In addition to perpetuating the belief that the only thing  women could possibly ever do on a computer is use Facebook, they also seem to imply women could never possibly do something as Dark and Dangerous as hacking.


I of course do not condone black hat hacking - but - I think everyone assuming Kayla must be a guy is sexist.


(*) Actually, what I find the most entertaining in the media is that most of these attacks to not require much cleverness. They are just exploiting human engineering error (poorly written code) or human social error (social engineering). Given most software looks like Swiss cheese as far as security is concerned, and given most people have no training on how to spot a social engineering ploy, the success of these attacks is hardly surprising.

16 responses so far

  • Bashir says:

    Neo: I thought you were a guy
    Trinity: Most guys do

  • WhizBANG! says:

    Guess none of them read The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, et al.

    • fcs says:

      I still need to read that! It's in my ebook queue, but I kept having a hard time getting into it. I'll try again now that I know there is a female hacker.

  • Udo says:

    In this case the assumption of Kayla being a guy does NOT stem from the fact that there are supposedly no women hackers. Anonymous originated on 4chan, where "16 year old girl" is a common colloquial term, and it's not denoting a person's gender or age. I'd say Kayla's gender is at best undefined, not that it should matter anyway...

    • fcs says:

      I'm fine with Kayla's gender being undefined, and appreciate the 4chan-ness of the situation. But a lot of the comments I saw around the web on this topic were still extremely derogatory toward women / women hackers, which is why I wrote about the topic here.

      I can't fix the internet, but I can at least attempt to raise awareness.

  • An Onmymous says:

    Why do you hate pistachio ice cream?

  • Fluffernuts says:

    You know, I agree that the comments and a lot of talk about this have been sexist. God forbid a woman is capable of hacking!

    However, it is well-known that many Internet dudes - particularly the 4chan type - pretend to be female. Usually just to troll, but sometimes assuming entire online identities. Just from experience dealing with these people, I think the whole "Kayla" deal is pretty obviously fake. Even the way "she" describes getting into hacking sounds exactly like the weird daydreaming of a dude trying to make up a background story for his character.

    Also - many female hackers, or even just females on skeevy places like 4chan, pretend to be male. It's just a lot easier that way (although it shouldn't be).

  • chall says:

    love the 'Dark and Dangerous' = D&D 🙂 (sorry, couldn't resist in all this talk about gender/hacking/gaming)

    I don't know if I belive her being a 16yo girl, but that's because I don't know that many [women] posing their real age and gender in the hacking community. Granted, I don't know that many ^^ then again, i chose a "gender neutral" nick b/c of that reason of prenotions etc.

    As for age and gender being anything about the whole "difficulty" I totally agree with you. Although, I think the perception (hope?) of people is that "it's all very safe and secure and no one can steal things since I have a Password, right?!" which would make it "even more impossible for a young girl to do it". All of it so much stereotypical bs and mythical stuff.

  • Jonny says:

    (*) Actually, what I find the most entertaining in the media is that most of these attacks to not require much cleverness. They are just exploiting human engineering error (poorly written code) or human social error (social engineering)

    So what. To quote my story:

    "You think your compañeros are cute? They're assholes. Got nothing going for them but card tricks."

    "Maybe," said Jonny, "but your boys are still dead."

    Just knowing to look for the weaknesses requires an effort of will and imagination. Anybody can DoS a site; it's normal. Humans are tame, and just moving anywhere unexpected is beyond a lot of people.

  • Anonymous reader says:

    Of course you're right that it's sexist to assume "Kayla" must be male on the (idiotic) grounds that no 16-year-old girl could possibly do that. However, it's worth noting that there's not the slightest evidence that she's female. I don't just mean that in the sense that her story is unverifiable, but rather that it's internally inconsistent. She describes herself as being incredibly paranoid, the sort of person who takes care not to store any data anywhere except on a microSD card, which she intends to chew up if she is ever caught. However, she supposedly opens up to this blogger and talks at length about her part-time job, her personal history and family situation, her future plans, etc., with the knowledge that this information would be published. If true, the information could help identify her (at the very least, it would really make her stand out on a list of possible suspects), so nobody truly paranoid would ever reveal so much. Presumably all the stories are simply lies, told for her own amusement or to sow confusion. If there's any substantial truth to them, then the supposed paranoia is just a pose. Either way, we clearly can't take what she's saying at face value, so why should we believe any of it? Including the part about being a 16-year-old girl in the first place.

  • Anonymous says:

    Of course it's not important for the sexism issue, but if the right person was arrested today, then Kayla was a 20-something man from Londton (Ryan Ackroyd; news stories differ as to whether he is 23 or 25).

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