Contributor(s): Hans Sjoholm

Hacker is a term used by some to mean "a clever programmer" and by others, especially those in popular media, to mean "someone who tries to break into computer systems."

1) Eric Raymond, compiler of The New Hacker's Dictionary, defines a hacker as a clever programmer. A "good hack" is a clever solution to a programming problem and "hacking" is the act of doing it. Raymond lists five possible characteristics that qualify one as a hacker, which we paraphrase here:

  • A person who enjoys learning details of a programming language or system
  • A person who enjoys actually doing the programming rather than just theorizing about it
  • A person capable of appreciating someone else's hacking
  • A person who picks up programming quickly
  • A person who is an expert at a particular programming language or system, as in "UNIX hacker"

Raymond deprecates the use of this term for someone who attempts to crack someone else's system or otherwise uses programming or expert knowledge to act maliciously. He prefers the term cracker for this meaning.

2) The term hacker is used in popular media to describe someone who attempts to break into computer systems. Typically, this kind of hacker would be a proficient programmer or engineer with sufficient technical knowledge to understand the weak points in a security system. For more on this usage, see cracker.

This was last updated in October 2006

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i want more details about hacking..........
Iindividual to use a computer to get unauthorised access to data illegally gains access to and sometimes tampers with information in a computer system gains remote access to a protected computer system breaks hacks a password code
I think we saw hackers as romantic, gentlemen thieves for a time. That was before our data and lives were impacted. Now I think the term has less positive and more negative. Which is sad. I think it's a skill (one I don't have) that can be used to great benefit by companies and organizations. Especially to secure otherwise open networks and available data. Hail the hackers!
Hackers are in the news a lot more today. It may be because they are stealing peoples identities more now than years ago. Back then it was to poke around in a companies business or steal from them. Today ID's are a hot commodity on the black market.  I still would say a hacker is someone who gains unauthorized access to a computer system. Referring to them as a "clever programmer" is a scary thought. Would you hire a "clever programmer" not knowing they were just hacking skills and not a true application developer? 
Interestingly, most of mass-media stereotypes about hackers are not very close to reality. Big part of so called "hacking" is social engineering and using stolen passwords.
So many more people are willing to share info it makes it easier for a hacker to crack a password. A little surfing someones social media presence and you could probably figure out their passwords. Either ethical or not, I do not know if a key-logger would be considered hacking. That does not take any real skill for the hardware type of key-loggers. Those would be the ones I worry about most in a corporate environment. Hoe secure are your offices? Could someone pose as a member of the cleaning crew and attach one the the VP / CIO / CFO or event presidents computer off hours ??


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