1:42 PMSkilled computer expert
A computer hacker is any skilled computer expert that uses their technical knowledge to overcome a problem. While "hacker" can refer to any skilled computer programmer, the term has become associated in popular culture with a "security hacker", someone who, with their technical knowledge, uses bugs or exploits to break into computer systems.
Although hacker has many definitions, we believe most people asking this question are interested in malicious coding. Computer Hope does not teach or condone cracking, stealing, breaking, or otherwise illegal cyber activity. However, a hacker may also be defined as someone with an advanced understanding of computers and programming.
Today, mainstream usage of "hacker" mostly refers to computer criminals, due to the mass media usage of the word since the 1980s. This includes what hacker slang calls "script kiddies", people breaking into computers using programs written by others, with very little knowledge about the way they work. This usage has become so predominant that the general public is largely unaware that different meanings exist. While the self-designation of hobbyists as hackers is generally acknowledged and accepted by computer security hackers, people from the programming subculture consider the computer intrusion related usage incorrect, and emphasize the difference between the two by calling security breakers "crackers" (analogous to a safecracker).
In the computer world, there are good guys who create networks that help us communicate, work with others and get information...and then there are those not-so-good guys and girls who, for a variety of reasons, like to use their computers to worm their way into those networks and cause trouble.
They're called hackers, and they'll routinely do things like:
- Steal secrets.
- Obtain passwords.
- Get credit card information.
- Create so much traffic that a website has to shut down.
Hackers are ALWAYS at work, either trying to steal information for their own gain or disrupt business as usual. You hear a lot of about hackers on the news now and then, but just what are they doing? Here's a bit of background to help you understand what it means when a website or company is "hacked."
Hacker is a term that refers to many different computing topics. However, in the mainstream, a hacker is any individual or group that circumvents security to access unauthorized data.
Most hackers are highly skilled computer programmers that locate security gaps and access secure systems via unique analytical skills. A great hacker is known to be able to "think outside the box."
What is hacking
Computer hacking refers to manipulating the normal behavior of a computer and its connected systems. This is usually done using scripts or programs that manipulate the data passing through a network connection in order to access information from the system. Hacking techniques include using viruses, worms, Trojan horses, ransomware, browser hijacks, rootkits and denial of service attacks.
Types of hackers
The security community has informally used references to hat color as a way different types of hacker are identified, usually divided into three types: white hat, black hat and gray hat.
White hat hackers, also known as ethical hackers, strive to operate in the public's best interest, rather than to create turmoil. Many white hat hackers work doing penetration testing, hired to attempt to break into the company's networks to find and report on security vulnerabilities. The security firms then help their customers mitigate security issues before criminal hackers can exploit them.
Black hat hackers intentionally gain unauthorized access to networks and systems with malicious intent, whether to steal data, spread malware or profit from ransomware, vandalize or otherwise damage systems or for any other reason -- including gaining notoriety. Black hat hackers are criminals by definition because they violate laws against accessing systems without authorization, but they may also engage in other illegal activity, including identity theft and distributed denial-of-service attacks.
Gray hat hackers fall somewhere between white hat hackers and black hat hackers. While their motives may be similar to those of white hat hackers, gray hats are more likely than white hat hackers to access systems without authorization; at the same time, they are more likely than black hat hackers to avoid doing unnecessary damage to the systems they hack. Although they aren't typically -- or only -- motivated by money, gray hat hackers may offer to fix vulnerabilities they have discovered through their own, unauthorized, activities rather than using their knowledge to exploit vulnerabilities for illegal profit.
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