Ever been to a LUG meeting where a member uses the term ‘Hacker’ when they should have said ‘Cracker’? The others crucify the poor soul within seconds. In programming circles, a hacker is a rather good programmer. “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.” (Jargon File). In the popular media, the term hacker refers to a person who breaks security on a system. Programmers call them Crackers.
Before 1985, there was no word for ‘Crackers’ – both good an bad hackers were know as, well, hackers. Soon the good hackers got tired of being lumped together with the bad guys. So they created a term for the baddies – the Crackers. And they got very upset when the media did not use the new word.
What I don’t get is why people cannot understand that the word ‘hacker’ has two(or more) different but equally valid meanings. I believe that the term ‘hacker’ can be used in the place of ‘cracker’ – as long as the understood that the word has two meanings.
The term hacker comes from the word hack – and the most valid meaning for the term is to circumvent the security of a system. As in “I can hack into your computer within minutes.” So people who ‘hack’ are called hackers.
In short, don’t get upset when others use the term hackers in the ‘wrong way’. If you want you can continue using the term cracker – that will solve the issue of ambiguity of the term ‘hacker’. Just don’t try to enforce your meaning upon others.
I am sure many of you would disagree, but you are all Schizophrenics – why should I care what you have to say? 😉