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The first time that “The World” wrote “hacker”

M The magazine of the World

C'is The world who revealed it on December 6: two groups of hackers linked to the Russian intelligence services would be at the origin of the “MacronLeaks”, these leaks of documents emanating from On the move! who ended up on the Internet between the two presidential rounds of 2017. From the start, Emmanuel Macron's team suspected Russia, denouncing “A form of interference” in the French countryside.

Mischievous hackers smuggled into the files of political parties, companies or state services to leak information: this is the definition of “hacker” that now appears most often in The world. However, the term has not always had this derogatory connotation.

When it is mentioned for the first time, in December 1984, at the turn of an article on the computer, object still shrouded in mystery, “hacker”, which will be written in the American newspaper columns until in 2015, is the “Name given to virtuoso programmers in the United States”. Little computer geniuses that then just popularized the American film WarGames (1983).

Read also Resumption: the return of “WarGames” and the first cinema hacker

Admittedly, the notion of danger is already present, since Matthew Broderick encamps a young pirate who succeeds in breaking into an American army system and fails to start a nuclear war. But the intrusion is accidental and the hacker appears to be devoid of bad intentions. Hacking then passes for a virtuous hobby: by exposing the flaws of the computer systems, it allows to solve them. Those who practice it soon become profiles sought by companies anxious to protect their data, as explained, June 13, 1987, Sophie Seroussi in an article on the boom of the market of computer security: “The seven American teenagers who, in the footsteps of the hero of WarGames, had successfully entered the Pentagon's ultra-secret computer system in 1985 have gold at their fingertips … Their victims are ready to pay their ” services “ a fortune. Nothing is more effective, in fact, to ensure the security of a computer network than to subject it to the sagacity of hackers, these hackers who make “Crack” computers like others break through safes. “

But soon the hacker changes his profile. Or rather objective. In August 1986, West German hackers working for the KGB attempted to gain access to US military databases. Intercepted, with the help of an American researcher, by West German counterintelligence, they are tried three years later in Karlsruhe. “In four months of close investigation, it appeared that the pirates were trying (…) to access the Milnet, a network of computers connecting American defense databases, military installations and university laboratories. We have known since that the laboratories of certain European firms (Philips and Thomson in particular) would also have been “Violated”writes Jean-François Augereau on March 7, 1989. “This new case poses the problem of the multiplication of people who now know how to handle a computer and can, for pleasure or interest, penetrate computer systems”, He continues.

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