When the issue of IT security is raised, two words come to mind – Hackers and Viruses. This article concerns the former.
The term “hacker” has become the widely used term for anyone who breaks into a system. However, the term should be used appropriately as it describes a person with “honorable” intentions as opposed to a “cracker” who is up to no good. True hackers are basically puzzle solvers.
They see security systems as challenges to be overcome and set about getting through its defenses. They are technically well-versed and enjoy breaking into and infiltrating systems just because they want to and not for malicious reasons. In essence, they embody the quote attributed to the famous English mountaineer George Mallory, who in reply to the question “Why did you climb Mt. Everest?” replied, “Because it’s there”. Hackers break into systems to expose their vulnerabilities and thereafter document the process so that others can learn from them. This actually benefits the IT community as security holes that are undiscovered can be blocked due to these findings. Hackers engage in their activities mainly for the challenge and also for the credibility gained from their peers for beating the system.
Crackers on the other hand do not have any honorable intentions at all. Looked down upon by the hacking community, they engage in activities like stealing credit card details, destroying data and dismantling protection systems on software so that they can be pirated. Basically they engage in outright criminal activity.
Hacking is a grey area and is difficult to condemn as it brings about progress through some anarchy. But Cracking is a “profession” to be looked down upon and eradicated if possible.