Thursday, November 26, 2009

Crime versus subculture: cracker versus hacker

A cracker is a person who gains oneself and/or other people illegal access to computers, most likely to perform some malicious activity. Often such a person is—incorrectly—called a hacker. A hacker's intention is not to damage a computer or to steal data for criminal undertakings. A hacker may detect security gaps and program errors hidden in operating systems, browsers and other software and bring those to public attention; but if so, then for their fixture. Typically, a hacker is a highly creative programmer with a lot of insider knowledge about computers and their inner workings. A hacker's programming style is explorative and unconventional, at least from a non-hacking viewpoint. Hackers are frequently seen (or see themselves) as part of a subculture. Some call it cyber punk.
Terms like password hacker or network hacker should be avoided, if they are meant to refer to malicious programming. Criminal activity is done by crackers—excluding nutcrackers!

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