HACKERS have been in the news again recently, with the sentencing of members of Lulzsec, a group of “cybercriminals” who wreaked havoc all over the digital world – just because they could.

An interesting feature of hacking is that while many people will obviously condemn the action of hackers, there will be many people who view them as folk heroes.

There is something romantic (not that kind of romantic) about the idea of a computer geek, sitting alone in his bedroom, taking on the might of the big corporations for some kind of arcane or moralistic purpose.

Lulzsec’s name is derived from “lulz” or LOL (laugh out loud) – ie laughs – and sec is short for security.

The group’s stated purpose is to exploit corporations’ laughably bad security. Among their targets were Sony and the UK's Serious Organised Crime Agency.

One could argue that, by exposing weaknesses in SOCA’s online security, the hackers were forcing them to tighten up and doing us all a favour.

The same can be said of Sony, which famously succumbed to an attack in 2011 by hacking group Anonymous, of which Lulzsec is a splinter group. The Anonymous attack compromised the security of about 77 million accounts, leading many angry users to accuse Sony of being lax about protecting their personal data.

It also resulted in a 24-day outage of the Playstation Network, which, for anyone with an interest in online gaming, seemed like an age.

I recall a Facebook post from one of my friends saying: “Wife and kids wondering why I have suddenly become such an attentive husband and father. Little do they know that the Playstation Network is down.”

Well, there’s another reason to thank the hackers then. Sort of.

But for me the most annoying thing about hackers is their representation in films and on TV. Hollywood spends millions painstakingly recreating every minute, historical detail for a period drama, but when it comes to computers, realism goes out the window.

Every time I see a computer in a film with a big red progress bar saying “VIRUS DOWNLOAD PROGRESS” or some other gibberish, I want to reach into the screen and punch the director.

Obviously a film about a sweaty loser sat alone in his bedroom typing instructions into a command prompt would be much more interesting.

Okay, maybe not.