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What Is a Hacker?

When most people hear the word hacker, they remember the glorified images of rebel geniuses – such as those in movies like “War Games” – that break into security systems.

Real hackers lead much less exciting lives. In the computing world, hackers are expert computer programmers. Their job is to set up intricate software and hardware systems, and they are often the best and brightest in their field. However, it is unlikely that their day-to-day lives of wading through computer code would be of much interest to Hollywood.

Of course, there are expert computer programmers who use their skills and technological knowhow to penetrate computer security networks. However, their intentions are often selfish: to siphon funds, steal information, or infect the system with a virus. However, these are not the “real” hackers. Among the computer experts, hackers are respected for their mastery of the subject, and are often hired as network security experts by companies to ward off the “evil” hackers one often thinks of.

Furthermore, computer crime is not as common as people think. Most programmers are well aware of the fines and prison sentences they would get if they were caught. In fact, the most common form of computer crime does not involve computer hackers at all! Instead of breaking into a system, these charlatans just fool people into freely giving their personal information or passwords. They usually do this through fake emails. This does not actually involve computer knowhow, since the charlatans don’t actually have to know programming or software – just human psychology.

Hacking can also refer to non-computer related tasks.

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