And the first ethical hacker was René Carmille, the comptroller general of the French Army, who headed up the French census before the Germans invaded. The Germans instructed Carmille to input census data into IBM machines and have it analyzed to produce a full list of Jews living in France. Carmille and his team had a different idea. They hacked the punch card machines so that data could not be entered for the column that specified religion. His sabotage worked until 1944, when the Nazis discovered the plot. Carmille was tortured and sent to the Dachau concentration camp, and he died shortly thereafter.

As digital law expert Heather Burns notes, this one small hack to the system had a lasting legacy: “In the Netherlands, 73% of Dutch Jews were found, deported, and executed. In France, that figure was 25%. It was that much lower because they couldn't find them. They couldn't find them because René Carmille and his team got political and hacked the data.”

Ziya Tong

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