in Technology

Who or what the hell is a Hacker?

Trinity in Matrix using Nmap to hackDo we really understand the term “hacker”? There is a thin digital line that divides the hacker that most digerati knows and the hacker (who are more aptly termed as crackers) that other common technical people refer too.

Computer pirates, cybernetic criminals, technology experts at the service of any cyber-gang or cyber-terrorists are some of the terms associated with the so called “hackers”. Despite all that, “Hacker” seems to garner much more meanings than the online community is ready to accept.


Linus Torvalds (the Linux operating system creator) said that Linux hackers work on it because they feel it’s interesting and attractive. Pekka Himanem in his book (The Hacker Ethic and the Spirit of the Information Age) said that for hackers, programming, software developing and computers are very interesting things. Hackers like to play with intelligence. They like to break all the rules (not necessarily doing something bad). Hackers are motivated and driven by the challenge of something harder because they continually want to show how good, smart and intelligent they are.


Trinity in Matrix uses Nmap 2.54BetaA25 to hackHackers are believed to be interested more in their hacks and not for the money they can get. Money isn’t the principal goal for them. Hacker is applied almost to every activity or discipline you do. For instance, you can be an automobile mechanic and be a hacker, you can be a dentist and be an expert (a hacker) on this career, you don’t need to have available high technology or computer softwares, you just need to be a passionate genius or expert in any area.

Bob Bickford, a computer and video guru said for Micro Times on December 1986, “A Hacker is any person who derives joy from discovering ways to circumvent limitations”.

Regrettably, the terms hacker and hack are marked by a controversy with a bad and good connotation. Many computer programmers and others use the words hacking, hack and hacker to express any admiration for the abilities and skills a special software developer. But typically peoples use the word to describe someone who “hack into” a system by evading the security of the servers.

Not only there is a controversy but an ambiguity. Hack is currently used in two main ways:

  1. Pejorative way: Generally a lot of people and media often refers to computer intruders or criminals that violate the security of the computer systems. For example, “A hacker broke through the US pentagon security”.
  2. Complimentary way: refers to the brilliant work of a programmer or expert. For example, “Richard Stallman, the Emacs creator is one of the most important hackers”.

In fact, in the jargon file (a dictionary of hacker jargon) emphasizes the positive connotation of the word hacker. Apparently for someone, hackers are good guys but it may not be for others. The bad sense of this activity is known as “Cracking” and peoples who crack are called “Crackers”. Hackers are not crackers. They have similar knowledge but different goals.

In conclusion, computer hackers are not a criminals or terrorists. The hacker community don’t like to hear from anybody that associate them with bad reputation or something negative. They work based on the solidarity. Hackers are unruly but not dangerous people.

Note: The images shows Trinity (in the movie Matrix) using Nmap 2.54BetaA25 to hack.

14 Comments

  1. The name's Linus Torvalds (with an 's').

    Money is not the principal goal for a Hacker, and I'm amazed and how many people are surprised to learn that. I believe a Hacker can lead a very fulfilling life by exploiting the greed in the average individual -- it's a hack!

    One of my favorite articles explaining the difference between hackers and crackers - Hackers are Not Crackers.

  2. It is the fault of the media! They have equated hackers to crackers and now almost everybody thinks that hacking is bad. Hacking is a good thing while Cracking is bad. I say only the media can fix the problem.

  3. It is the fault of the media! They have equated hackers to crackers and now almost everybody thinks that hacking is bad. Hacking is a good thing while Cracking is bad. I say only the media can fix the problem.

  4. The name's Linus Torvalds (with an 's').

    Money is not the principal goal for a Hacker, and I'm amazed and how many people are surprised to learn that. I believe a Hacker can lead a very fulfilling life by exploiting the greed in the average individual -- it's a hack!

    One of my favorite articles explaining the difference between hackers and crackers - Hackers are Not Crackers.

  5. It might interest you to know that the term hacker was stolen from people who used to crawl through hidden spaces in buildings looking for rooms that have been blocked off & generally exploring places in those buildings normally unseen by the average person.

  6. It might interest you to know that the term hacker was stolen from people who used to crawl through hidden spaces in buildings looking for rooms that have been blocked off & generally exploring places in those buildings normally unseen by the average person.

  7. I'm getting tired of seeing techies try to explain the non-malicous "hacker". Get it through your heads: "cracker" will never catch on! You'll either have to find a new word to describe the good hacker or be willing to share the term with those you try to call crackers.

  8. I'm getting tired of seeing techies try to explain the non-malicous "hacker". Get it through your heads: "cracker" will never catch on! You'll either have to find a new word to describe the good hacker or be willing to share the term with those you try to call crackers.

  9. Oh my God. If we see the movie Hard Die 4. We'll see a clear and perfect example of a good hacker against a bad cracker. I think is a fight between God and Devil, Light and Darkness.

  10. I agree with Manish Jethani (who is a hacker, IMO), I believe it's more curiosity/passion to know about things and change things to work for you (to solve a problem or purpose), that motivates hackers.

    I find Eric S. Raymond's article very interesting - How To Become A Hacker.
    Paul Graham also wrote an interesting essay - Great Hackers.

    BTW! Someone who uses backdoor-softwares like Backorfice, Netbus, SubSeven etc to get into someone's system, is not a hacker rather a lamer. I tried similar things too with 90% success but now I realized I wasted my time in something lame. I should have spent that time studying and writing code-for network-protocols, OS and could probably exploit things in hacker way.

  11. I agree with Manish Jethani (who is a hacker, IMO), I believe it's more curiosity/passion to know about things and change things to work for you (to solve a problem or purpose), that motivates hackers.

    I find Eric S. Raymond's article very interesting - How To Become A Hacker.
    Paul Graham also wrote an interesting essay - Great Hackers.

    BTW! Someone who uses backdoor-softwares like Backorfice, Netbus, SubSeven etc to get into someone's system, is not a hacker rather a lamer. I tried similar things too with 90% success but now I realized I wasted my time in something lame. I should have spent that time studying and writing code-for network-protocols, OS and could probably exploit things in hacker way.

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