MANILA, Philippines - About 180 hackers from all over the Philippines and from other countries are gathered in Cebu City for the ROOTCON gathering. Their message: they are not afraid to show their faces, because hackers are not evil.
"Hacking," they explain, is not synonymous to an illegal act.
They claimed that they hack websites just to test how strong a particular website or system's security is, so that other experts can improve it.
They say most hackers do it to protect and not to destroy.
During the conference, they exchange tips, both on how to penetrate and protect certain websites.
They play games wherein they try to see who can crack codes amd passwords the fastest.
There is even a talk on how to pick a safety box where people store their valuables.
It seems diabolical, but their point is that before you can protect a website, a system, or even your home. You have to know its weaknesses first.
But they also admit that there are also bad hackers.
Present at the conference was one of those who defaced and shut down Chinese government websites at the height of the Philippines-China standoff on Scarborough shoal.
Call themselves "hacktivists," they were able to take down more than 20 Chinese websites in retaliation to Chinese hackers' attacks on Phil government websites.
There are also those in the underground scene who destroy websites and steal passwords or credit card information for the fun of it.
But they say that's not all they are.