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Hackers crack Gaddafi's mobile phone network

Hackers generally get a bad press. Those who are techie enough to take a device apart and put it to a purpose for which its maker did not intend can these days find themselves on the end of a lawsuit.

This ridiculous state of affairs stifles creativity and innovation and is the obverse of much of the rest of the history of human development.

Hackers can sniff around your computer and bug your phone - if you believe all you read, these nefarious tinkerers need stringing up.

Unless, that is, you happen to support what the hackers are up to.

It emerges, for example, that hackers have managed to penetrate Moammar Gaddafi's cellphone network and help the so-called 'rebels' rebuild their own communications systems.

According to a story in the Wall Street Journal, these hackers have now given back some two million Libyans their Internet access a month after Gaddafi cut them off from the outside world. They also have a mobile phone network to enable them to communicate with one another.

According to the Journal: "While cellphones haven't given rebel fighters the military strength to decisively drive Col. Gadhafi from power, the network has enabled rebel leaders to more easily make the calls needed to rally international backing, source weapons and strategize with their envoys abroad."

The hackers apparently "hived off part of the Libyana cellphone network—owned and operated by the Tripoli-based Libyan General Telecommunications Authority, which is run by Col. Gadhafi's eldest son—and rewired it to run independently of the regime's control."

The Journal even managed to credit an Arab brought up on the US with masterminding the operation.

Ousama Abushagur, a 31-year-old Libyan telecom executive raised in Huntsville, Alabama apparently directed the operation from his home in Abu Dhabi.

It appears then that not only are there good and bad hackers there are also good Arabs as well as bad. Progress indeed!

The fascinating Wall Street Journal report is here. If you can't see the whole thing because you don't have a subscription, paste the headline into Google and the search outfit will 'hack' it for you!