Hackers make it their life’s mission to remain anonymous, but it seems that we all know exactly what they look like because the only “real” images of hackers we could see are the ones that news organizations buy from photobanks. And every one of the news organizations is covering hackers nowadays. And there are a LOT of photobanks out there. You do the math. 

They are shady-looking individuals often found lurking in darkened rooms illuminated by nothing but the glow of menacing green binary code. Hackers are faceless creepers hidden by the invincible cloak of a hoodie, almost always typing on their keyboards.

Duh. Everyone knows that because this stereotypical hacker image shows up in essentially every article ever written about hacking or cyber security attacks — from iCloud breaches and DDoS attacks to the recent WannaCrypt ransomware attack.

We too have fallen victim to using stock photos of keyboards in dark rooms to accompany stories about Russian hacks or cyber security attacks. But, man, if you saw some of what we’re choosing from, you’d realize that we have very little wiggle room here.

We get it, it’s hard to properly illustrate something when you don’t know the full story and have little information about the people involved, so artists have achieved a standard visual by combining the obvious presence of a computer with a mysterious-seeming person.

It works great for the sake of getting the message across, but the images are laughable. And as you can see by this beautiful selection of hacking photos, they lead to an incredibly stereotypical definition of a hacker.

Judging from these visual gems, here’s what we know about hackers for sure:

They have hands, which they make significant use of in order to successfully hack
Hackers use their powerfully dangerous fingers to type. This we know to be true. Sometimes they wear gloves on those hands to make themselves appear even more mysterious…

Gloves are a key part of the hacker aesthetic. You can take the gloves off the hacker, but you can never take the hacker out of the gloves.

Hackers hate sunlight. They hack only by the glow of their screens

Aside from being intelligent computer geniuses and not sucking blood, hackers aren’t all that different from vampires.

Seriously — no sunlight just code light. And do not forget your hoodie
Every computer hacker is just A, the notorious villain from Pretty Little Liars.
Hackers don’t have faces
Even when a computer shines its light directly upon a hacker, he still has no face. Magic.

It’s the RULES, okay?!

Even the FBI — an organization that should have access to real images of hackers — has disseminated similar images. According to the FBI, the male hacker also wears a dark hoodie and has eyes invisible to the rest of the world though he does, in fact, have a face.

Some hackers out there are surely sitting at their laptops surrounded by multiple half-empty coffee cups, some snacks, a to-do list — heck, they’re probably bingeing Netflix on their second monitor with their Facebook account open in a separate tab as they torture themselves by checking in on their exes.

Show us THAT hacker next time, O.K., stock photo companies? Show us a real hacker. Oh, and let’s all just agree to put a moratorium on the stereotype and stop using the same damn photo.

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