What is a Hacker?

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The term hacker has a double meaning within the field of computing. A hacker can be an expert computer programmer who creates complex software and hardware. These hackers are experts in the field of computing and have achieved a certain elite status within their field. The other commonly known meaning of the word is someone who breaks into computer security networks for his own purpose.

The media has perpetuated the more exciting connotation of the word hacker with films and books on the subject. Films such as War Games portray breaking into the Pentagon’s security system as similar to playing a computer game. A film about the computer hacker designing a software system would probably not do very big business at the box office.

A hacker who who breaks into systems primarily to steal is not regarded as a computer expert, although she can be. A hacker within the professional world of computing is regarded as a professional computer expert within his field. In the professional computing world, a hacker can be a computer and network security expert. She can also be a highly skilled software programmer or a hardware modifier. The type of hacker who breaks into bank accounts or a company’s network does exist, but the meaning is entirely different from that of a professional hacker.

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