Definition of a hacker
In the media the word "hacker" is often used, for what I would
call a "cracker", someone that breaks into systems to damage it
or for the purpose of getting illegitimate access to resources.
A definition for hacker is found in
The Hacker FAQ by Peter Seebs.
Ari Lukumies wrote:
As far as my terminology serves, crackers are those who give hackers a bad
name (because most of the people cannot distinguish the two). Somebody who
breaks into other's computer systems, or digs into their code (in order to
make a copy-protected program run, for example) is a cracker. Then, someone
who's really good at what he does with computers, is called a hacker. A hack,
in software circles, is a quickly written short piece of code that makes
something work. It may not be beautiful to look at, but it makes things
hacker: [originally, someone who makes furniture with
an axe] n. 1. A person who enjoys exploring the details of
programmable systems and how to stretch their
capabilities, as opposed to most users, who prefer to learn
only the minimum necessary. 2. One who programs
enthusiastically (even obsessively) or who enjoys
programming rather than just theorizing about
programming. 3. A person capable of appreciating hack
value. 4. A person who is good at programming quickly. 5.
An expert at a particular program, or one who frequently
does work using it or on it; as in `a UNIX hacker'.
(Definitions 1 through 5 are correlated, and people who fit
them congregate.) 6. An expert or enthusiast of any kind.
One might be an astronomy hacker, for example. 7. One
who enjoys the intellectual challenge of creatively
overcoming or circumventing limitations. 8. [deprecated]
A malicious meddler who tries to discover sensitive
information by poking around. Hence `password hacker',
`network hacker'. See cracker.
It is better to be described as a hacker by others than to
describe oneself that way. Hackers consider themselves
something of an elite (a meritocracy based on ability),
though one to which new members are gladly welcome.
There is thus a certain ego satisfaction to be had in
identifying yourself as a hacker (but if you claim to be one
and are not, you'll quickly be labeled bogus).
Are you a cracker if you break into a system for
finding security holes?
Someone wrote me the following question:
I have a question for you involving the definition of a hacker vs a cracker. I am in training to be a IT professional and am wondering
what you think of this:
My replied to this was:
A serson has just built a new network for a buisness and wants to know any weakness's in it. He hires his friend, who he knows is
trust worthy, to "hack" into his network and report any weaknesses that occur. He brute forces threw telnet and pingsweeps the
ports and finds several backdoors and weakpoints, then reports them.
Now my question for you is, is this person who is hired a hacker or a cracker. he is trying to break security into a network, but it is
for a good reason in which he is getting paid. Personaly i think he is a hacker and not a cracker because it isnt malicious. You
thoughts would be very helpfull because i am writing a report for school, thanks.
I think that at the core of the hacker definition
that I use (and as it is used according to the
hacker's Jargon dictionary), a hacker is someone
who just want to know everything from a system
just for the joy of it, whereas a average user
wants to know just enough to use a system. From
having a deep knowledge also comes the desire to
stretch the system to its limits and achieve things
that others did not consider to be useful. Some of
these kinds of hackers are focusing on networks,
protocols and security. If then they use this knowledge
to find security holes in a system, then are still
considered as hackers. But there are also people
who (like the average users) learn some tricks and
use this tricks to create virusses, break into
system and such. I would call these people crackers,
because they do not seek knowledge for the knowledge
itself, but to show off that they can break into a
certain system or create a nasty virus.
So, really, the definition of a hacker does not
refer to whether someone uses his knowledge to
break into a network for good or bad reasons, but
if the person sought knowledge just for the joy
of seeking, or whether he sought knowledge only
to use it. So, really, I cannot judge whether the
person in your story is a real hacker or not,
because you do not mention his motivation. At least
he does not seems to be like the typical "cracker",
as a real "cracker" would not have told the owner
of the system about the weaknesses he has found.
A good site about hackers is
hacker's Wisdom. You can also read my personal
life as a hacker.
home and email