Ask Hackaday: Which Balaclava Is Best For Hacking?

At Hackaday, we’re tapped into Hacker Culture. This goes far beyond a choice of operating system (Arch Linux, or more correctly, ‘Arch GNU/Linux’, or as I’ve recently taken to calling it, ‘Arch GNU plus Linux’).  This culture infects every fiber of our soul, from music (DEF CON’s station on Soma FM), our choice in outerwear (black hoodies, duh), and our choice in laptops (covered in stickers). We all wear uniforms, although a gaggle of computer science and electronics nerds all wearing black t-shirts won’t tell you that. We all conform, whether we’re aware of it or not.

Despite a standardized uniform for this subculture, one small detail of this Hacker Uniform has remained unresolved for decades. Are one-hole or three-hole balaclavas best for hacking? Which balaclava is best for stealing bank accounts and hacking into NASA computers? What offers the best protection from precipitating ones and zeros in a real-life Matrix screensaver?

A hacker sporting a one-hole balaclava, STEALING YOUR DATA
A hacker sporting a one-hole balaclava, STEALING YOUR DATA

We’ve come a long way in hacker fashion since the days of sleeveless leather jackets and rollerblades. Since the early 2000s — around the time anyone could upload pictures to stock photo sites — the defacto hacker uniform has been the balaclava.

Still, some hackers wear Converse, some hackers wear Vans, some wear one-hole balaclavas, and others sport the three-hole when they’re busy stealing your identity. Which one is best? Which kind of balaclava is best for pentesting? These are vital questions to the hacker community.

During his talk at ClavaCon 2015, 1337 hacker [xxXXStealinzYourzData420XXxx] spoke on the merits of the three-hole variety: “I like the three-hole version because your mouth is uncovered. That makes it easy to guzzle my favorite drink, vodka and Baja Blast Mountain Dew”.

However, there is little consensus in the community. Speaking at PenTestersAnonymousNoNotThatKindOfPen 2016, hacker [AllTheCool] opined on the subject: “Let’s be frank for a moment. While very few people can argue against the utility of the three-hole balaclava, it is by no means a fashionable piece of headwear. My job — hacking your private information — involves sitting alone in front of a computer for up to twenty hours at a time. I need to look good, even though no one will see me. The three-hole ‘clava just looks terrible, and they rarely fit well.”

So there you have it. Utility versus fashion, a never ending argument brought to hacker culture. But what if there were a solution?

The two-hole variant

The rare two-hole balaclava, worn by a hacker STEALING YOUR SOCIAL SECURITY NUMBER OH MY GOD

Even in this discussion of the merits of a one-hole versus three-hole balaclavas, there is another option. The two-hole balaclava. The rare two-hole variant is something of a hybrid of the one-hole and three-hole. Like the one-hole balaclava, there’s a single slit for both eyes. Like the three-hole balaclava, there’s a hole for your mouth.

By any measure, this is a rare variant of the hacker’s favorite headwear. It’s difficult to find a two-hole balaclava on Amazon, AliExpress, or Taobao.

In a 2014 FBI study, it was found that only 0.3% of hackers wear a two-hole balaclava. Additionally, in a 2012 survey, it was found less than one percent of NSA contractors chose the two-hole variant for their uniform. Despite these statistics, there are marked advantages to the two-hole balaclava. First, with the uncovered mouth, it’s possible to consume alcohol. Second, the larger, single eye hole is far more fashionable. Fashion and functionality, what more could you want?

Unfortunately, the two-hole balaclava seems to suffer the fate of all practical fashion. Socks and sandals are eminently practical, but we just don’t do it because that’s a fashion faux pas. Cargo shorts are the perfect garment, but you won’t find them on the cover of GQ. So it is with the two-hole balaclava; no one wears them because everyone wears either a one-hole or three-hole balaclava.

While the merits of a two-hole balaclava are obvious, hackers still rely on the more fashionable versions for stealing data, credit card information, and social security numbers. We’re right where we started from, wondering which version is best for hacking, so we’re turning this over to the Hackaday community: Which balaclava do you wear when hacking, and why? It’s an intractable problem, yes, but still one that merits discussion. Leave your thoughts in the comments.

86 thoughts on “Ask Hackaday: Which Balaclava Is Best For Hacking?

    1. I mean script kiddie wannabes might use a balaclava, but just think, there you are using a Low Orbit Ion Cannon to bust through a firewall and what happens when it finally gives way? Yah, pieces of firewall flying everywhere, so what happens if one goes in your eye eh? Think of that? How are you going to explain that at the ER?

      Obviously therefore the seasoned hacker wears ballistic goggles, and what happens if you do this while wearing a balaclava? The damn things steam up! Special forces know this, that’s why they favor shemargs. The T-Shirt ninja mask has similar effect, it’s loose about your chin and tight over your nose allowing exhaled air to do down, and not up into your goggles? How the hell are you going to read patterns off the matrix in steamed up goggles, it’d just look like some bullshit screensaver ripoff.

        1. The T60 and T61, while made by Lenovo, were effectively pre-lenovo. They’re also the last thinkpads you can buy with a hardware serial and parallel port (through an Ultrabay thingy, but linux sees it as true hardware).

          The T60 is what you want.

  1. Only the two-hole is suitable for long sessions where you need to eat fries, burgers, and pizza. The one hole is stylish, but you can’t eat or power slam your drinks. Don’t forget the matching messenger bag to carry your gear when you’re running! Remember: cardio helps keep you out of the slammer/shallow grave!

  2. What puzzles me is that I have never seen a balaclava with an ironic printing on it. Something really doesn’t add up here. Standard hacker garment but no ironic prints… Hmmmmmm

  3. Scarves and shemaghs offer a stylish compromise while still fitting in with hipster culture found in tech cities. You get the same face concealing options while also protecting your neck from the sun in the unfortunate case that you run out of club mate and are forced to walk to the store and interact with people.
    While tied they have the same drawbacks as the one hole balaclava but you can easily untuck the face covering potion while still protecting your head and neck from harmful UV rays, thus preserving your monitor tan.

  4. The only real alternatives are the two and three hole variants as the one hole variant will accumulate moisture which is either a nuisance or a danger due to ice buildup (in colder climates or when hacking from within a freezer).

    1. Some hackers don’t like freezers because there are no power outlets inside. Others just hack the thing and install a socket in the freezer (actually two, one for power and the other one for the freezer’s hidden serial port).

  5. It’s 2017, you need to wear dark glasses with your mask, iris scanners and eye recognition you know.
    Also, what is best depends on the region and climate obviously.
    Oh and you might consider a matching pair off gloves to maintain a certain style.

  6. I used both 1-hole, 2-holes and 3-holes balaclavas in the the past.
    They seemed fine and all but in reality once you know the feeling of a 4-holes balaclava you never go back.
    The feeling of your ears sticking out is simply wonderfull.
    …And don’t forget to get a 100% Scottish Lambswool at the very least because you don’t want a scratchy head !

      1. Thanks! Should have known…

        What /is/ useful are gloves with conducting tips. You can operate the capacitive touch screen of your phone without taking off the glove. A few years before these were in the shops I hacked one for my wife for Christmas. Turned out this isn’t as straight forward as it sounds, but this did work: thin patch of conducting foam rubber (slice of EMC packaging for DIL-ICs), sewn onto the tip of a regular glove using thin copper wire extracted from a power cord. The resistance is about right to trick the touch screen into sensing the finger inside the glove.

  7. As a retrocomputing enthusiast, I still haven’t gotten in to the balaclava trend. No headphone ports? No thanks! That’s why I still use a vintage hoodie from 1993. Never washed either, that ruins the historic value. Sometimes old hardware really is the best.

      1. At least we have USB sticks that can kill laptops haha, To be honest a USB is all Snowden needed to expose what conspiracy nuts had been telling us for years, Well that and a security clearance.

    1. Load that, is it where you intended?

      If I search Balaclava ON and go to the one near Owen Sound, and click on the main intersection, the map takes me to 37 Hwy 3, very odd.

  8. I like the racing ones made by Simpson and Sparco. hey are fire resistant if your computer manages to erupt into flames while diving on a super secure system.

    1. When I was a penniless college student, I had to make do with a toque pulled low down on my forehead and a scarf wrapped around my face…. because the heat was shut off and it was fucking winter.

  9. The rules for balaclava use are,
    1hole, these are used for installing nefarious code
    3 hole, these are used for removing data.
    2 hole, these are used for removing data and then attempting to cover your tracks.
    No matter how much, or how little attention she pays to what’s going on around her, never let your mother find your balaclava, she will either report you to the authorities, or worse, sew the holes up, either way you’re screwd!

Leave a Reply

Please be kind and respectful to help make the comments section excellent. (Comment Policy)

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.