The Difference Between Hackers and Crackers

To understand the methodology of a hacker or cracker, one must understand what a hacker or a cracker is. Internet enthusiasts have argued the difference between hackers and crackers for many years. This chapter contains my contribution to that debate.

If I were forced to define the terms hacker and cracker, my bottom line would probably be this:

  • A hacker is a person intensely interested in the arcane and recondite workings of any computer operating system. Hackers are most often programmers. As such, hackers obtain advanced knowledge of operating systems and programming languages. They might discover holes within systems and the reasons for such holes. Hackers constantly seek further knowledge, freely share what they have discovered, and never intentionally damage data.

  • A cracker is one who breaks into or otherwise violates the system integrity of remote machines with malicious intent. Having gained unauthorized access, crackers destroy vital data, deny legitimate users service, or cause problems for their targets. Crackers can easily be identified because their actions are malicious.

Additionally, it should be mentioned that there are two major types of crackers. The first is fortunately few and far between. They are the expert crackers who discover new security holes and often write programs that exploit them. The second type, the script kiddie, only knows how to get these programs and run them. Script kiddies are more numerous, but much easier to stop and detect.


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