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what really is a hacker?

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a hacker, in the simplest form, as far as computers, is someone who really understands their computer.


there are subsets who are interested in security, the white-hats who do defensive stuff (antivirus, firewall, spyware checkers, etc), as well as the black-hats, who are on the attack. another name for the later group is cracker.


so why do people think all hackers are crackers?

well, actually, they don't. hackers have a lot of clue and skill. far below them are script kiddies, warez dudes, and the like.

of course, they barely have the skill to use the programs made by real hackers. and since they don't have any skill, or reputation, what better than to pretend to have a reputation, by using the names of skilled people? people you should worry about if they're out to get you? (if a professional black-hat is out to get you, they'll be able to, people at that skill level do security audits of military security and the like. of course, they have little reason to go after a home PC).

so script kiddies start calling themselves hackers, and the media, always ready to jump on a story without checking facts, spread it to the public


but don't just take my word for it... I know most of you won't have heard of eric raymond (or esr), but if you google him, you can find that he does have the background that most hackers will know of him... he's current maintainer of the hacker jargon files.

of particular relevance is: http://catb.org/jargon/html/crackers.html

go read it, you'll probably find yourself nodding or laughing (it's not a long page, even if you do read a couple of the references, but reading the entire jargon files can give days of humour, even to a non-geek)


so, next time you see someone using leet-speak, unless it's obviously ironic, laugh at them! (but not publically, that's rude), then see if you can educate them.

most people resist learning, especially if it means they can't just go along with what the media tells them, but some people will listen, and learn, and with a few people a little less ignorant, the world can get a little better

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