Most people refer to individuals who gain unauthorised access to websites, email accounts, bank accounts and online profiles as ‘hackers’. That’s not accurate and, if you’re talking to someone who deals with technology, you may find serious miscommunication going on!
A hacker is actually someone who learns the intricate details of technology, software applications, etc. in order to customise it to carry out activities that the original version doesn’t offer. There’s nothing sinister about this and it doesn’t involve hijacking anyone’s accounts.
Examples of hackers are people who modify an off-the-shelf accounting package to work alongside a customer relationship management system more effectively and also people who modify their game console to allow them to play any type of media across a network.
What most people mean when they refer to ‘hackers’ are ‘crackers’; specifically security crackers. These are the ‘baddies’ whose main aim is to steal information without authorisation for their own benefit. They hijack social media accounts, bank accounts and websites to either get money or to damage someone’s reputation.
Hackers help to make software work even better; Crackers hurt people by stealing their information and smearing their public image.
Now you know that – I’m guessing that you’ll still talk about hackers when you mean crackers and most people will know what you mean.