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Hacker (computer security)

In common usage, a hacker is a person who breaks into computers and computer networks, either for profit or motivated by the challenge. The subculture that has evolved around hackers is often referred to as the computer underground but is now an open community.


Hacking developed alongside "Phone phreaking", a term referred to exploration of the phone network without authorization, and there has often been overlap between both technology and participants. Bruce sterling traces part of the roots of the computer underground to the Yippies, a 1960s counterculture movement which published the Technological Assistance Program (TAP) newsletter. Other sources of early 70s hacker culture can be traced towards more beneficial forms of hacking, including MIT labs or the homebrew club, which later resulted in such things as early personal computers or the open source movement.

Other uses of the word hacker exist that are not related to computer security (Computer program and home computer hobbistics), but these are rarely used by the mainstream media because of the common stereotype that is in TV and movies. Some would argue that the people that are now considered hackers are not hackers, as before the media described the person who breaks into computers as a hacker there was a hacker community. This group was a community of people who had a large interest in computer programming, often sharing, without restrictions, the source code for the software they wrote. These people now refer to the cyber-criminal hackers as "crackers".

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