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Hackers are Not Crackers

originally posted on                      

9th may 2007

Internet in India is growing rapidly and with it, several new business models, entertainment avenues and educational opportunities. Internet has also exposed us to security risks that come with connecting to a large network.

The media has always laches stories of so-called `hackers' breaking into computer systems and wreaking havoc. This article is a sincere attempt to set the record straight as far as the terminology and process of `hacking' is concerned.

The hacker culture as it is known, actually started way back in the 1950's when computers were huge and bulky, and programming them meant connecting wires to electrodes. Although they didn't call themselves hackers then, that pretty much explains what a hacker is.

The new hacker's dictionary defines a hacker as:

hacker 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.

This term seems to have been first adopted as a badge in the 1960s by the hacker culture surrounding the `Tech Model Railroad Club' (TMRC) and the MIT AI Lab. It was probably used in a sense close to this by teenage radio hams and electronics tinkerers in the mid-1950s. 


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