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This article is about computer hacking. For other uses, see Hacker (disambiguation) and Hacking.
Hacker, as it relates to computers, has several common meanings. Hacker is often used by the mass media to refer to a person who engages in computer cracking and is also often used by those in computing fields to refer to a person who is a computer enthusiast. At least three major hacker subcultures, characterized by their largely distinct historical development, use the term in their jargon for self-identification. They are centered around different, but partially overlapping aspects of computers and have conflicting ideas about who may legitimately be called a hacker (see hacker definition controversy). In computer security, a hacker is someone who focuses on security mechanisms. In common use, which was popularized by the mass media, that refers to someone who illegally breaks into computer and network systems. That is, the media portrays the 'hacker' as a villain. Nevertheless, parts of the subculture see their aim in correcting security problems and use the word in a positive sense. They operate under a code of the Hacker Ethic, in which it's acknowledged that breaking into other people's computers is bad, but that discovering and exploiting security mechanisms and breaking into computers is nevertheless an interesting aspect that can be done in an ethical and legal way. This use is contrasted by the different understanding of the word as a person who follows a spirit of playful cleverness and loves programming. It is found in an originally academic movement unrelated to computer security and most visibly associated with free software and open source. It also has a hacker ethic, based on the idea that writing software and sharing the result is a good idea, but only on a voluntary basis, and that information should be free, but that it's not up to the hacker to make it free by breaking into private computer systems. Academic hackers disassociate from the mass media's pejorative use of the word 'hacker' referring to computer security, and usually prefer the term 'cracker' for that meaning. In a third meaning, the term refers to computer hobbyists who push the limits of their software or hardware.
1 Computer security hackers
2 Academic hackers
3 Hobby Hackers
4 Overlaps and differences
5 See also
7 Related books
8 External links
 Computer security hackers
Main article: Hacker (computer security)
In computer security, a hacker is a person who specializes in work with the security mechanisms for computer and network systems. The subculture around such hackers is termed network hacker subculture, hacker scene or computer underground. While including those who endeavor to strengthen such mechanisms, it is more often used by the mass media and popular culture to refer to those who seek access despite these security measures. Accordingly, the term bears strong connotations that may be favorable or pejorative.
The network hacker subculture initially developed in the context of phreaking during the 1960s and the microcomputer BBS scene of the 1980s. It is implicated with 2600: The Hacker Quarterly and the alt.2600 newsgroup.
By 1983, hacking in the sense of breaking computer security had already been in use as computer jargon, but there was no public awareness about such activities. However, the release of the movie WarGames that year raised the public belief that computer security hackers (especially teenagers) could be a threat to national security. This concern became real when a gang of teenage crackers in Milwaukee, Wisconsin known as The 414s broke into computer systems throughout the United States and Canada, including those of Los Alamos National Laboratory, Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center and Security Pacific Bank. The case quickly grew media attention, and 17-year-old Neal Patrick emerged as the spokesman for the gang, including a cover story in Newsweek entitled "Beware: Hackers at play", with Patrick's photograph on the cover.  The Newsweek article appears to be the first use of the word hacker by the mainstream media in the pejorative sense.
As a result of news coverage, congressman Dan Glickman called for an investigation and new laws about computer hacking.  Neal Patrick testified before the U.S. House of Representatives on September 26, 1983 about the dangers of computer hacking, and six bills concerning computer crime were introduced in the House that year.  As a result of these laws against computer criminality, white hat, grey hat and black hat hackers try to distinguish themselves from each other, depending on the legality of their activities.
Computer pioneer Ken Thompson reflected on the above events during his 1983 Turing Award lecture: "I would like to criticize the press in its handling of the 'hackers,' the 414 gang, the Dalton gang, etc. The acts performed by these kids are vandalism at best and probably trespass and theft at worst. ... I have watched kids testifying before Congress. It is clear that they are completely unaware of the seriousness of their acts." 
Loyd Blankenship (also known as The Mentor) — Former LOD member. Author of The Conscience of a Hacker (Hacker's Manifesto).
Eric Corley (also known as Emmanuel Goldstein) — Long standing publisher of 2600: The Hacker Quarterly and founder of the H.O.P.E. conferences. He has been part of the hacker community since the late '70s.
CULT OF THE DEAD COW — A high profile hacker group that has both made news and been consulted by the media on numerous occasions.
Brian Dorsett — Reverse-engineered the NDS satellite access smartcard known as the HU card. Currently imprisoned at Miami FDC. He recorded a daily podcast from prison titled Prisoncast [dead link – history], although this is no longer active.
Patrick K. Kroupa (also known as Lord Digital) — Former LOD member, co-founder of MindVox, author of Phantom Access programs, and MindVox: The Overture. Appears in over 20 books and hundreds of media and press articles.
Gary McKinnon (Also known as Solo) accused of hacking into 97 United States military and NASA computers in 2001 and 2002.
Kevin Mitnick — A former computer criminal who now (since his release from prison in 2000) speaks, consults, and authors books about social engineering and network security.
Stuart Goldman; Known as the "Hollywood Hacker," Goldman, who was working on an expose of the tabloid industry, was arrested in 1990 for breaking into the computers of Fox Television. Goldman later returned to court with evidence that he had been set up by Fox. All charges against him were dropped and his record expunged. Goldman sold a screenplay ("Spy Vs. Spies") to Phoenix Pictures and producer Oliver Stone based upon his experience.
 Academic hackers
Main article: Hacker (academia)
In the academic hacker culture, a computer hacker is a person who enjoys designing software and building programs with a sense for aesthetics and playful cleverness.
According to Eric S. Raymond, the academic hacker subculture developed in the 1960s among hackers working on early minicomputers in academic computer science environments. After 1969 it fused with the technical culture of the pioneers of the Internet. One PDP-10 machine at MIT connected to the Internet provided an early hacker meeting point. It was called AI and ran ITS. After 1980 the subculture coalesced with the culture of Unix, and after 1987 with elements of the early microcomputer hobbyists that themselves had connections to radio amateurs in the 1920s. Since the mid-1990s, it has been largely coincident with what is now called the free software and open source movement.
Many programmers have been labeled "great hackers," but the specifics of who that label applies to is a matter of opinion. Certainly major contributors to computer science such as Edsger Dijkstra and Donald Knuth, as well as the inventors of popular software such as Linus Torvalds (Linux), and Dennis Ritchie and Ken Thompson (the C programming language) are likely to be included in any such list; see also List of programmers. People primarily known for their contributions to the consciousness of the academic hacker culture include Richard Stallman, the founder of the free software movement and the GNU project, president of the Free Software Foundation and author of the famous Emacs text editor as well as the GNU Compiler Collection (GCC), and Eric S. Raymond, one of the founders of the Open Source Initiative and writer of the famous text The Cathedral and the Bazaar and many other essays, maintainer of the Jargon File (which was previously maintained by Guy L. Steele, Jr.).
Within the academic hacker culture, the term hacker is also used for a programmer who reaches a goal by employing a series of modifications to extend existing code or resources. In this sense, it can have a negative connotation of using kludges to accomplish programming tasks that are ugly, inelegant, and inefficient. This derogatory form of the noun "hack" is even used among users of the positive sense of "hacker" (some argue that it should not be, due to this negative meaning; others argue that some kludges can, for all their ugliness and imperfection, still have "hack value"). In a very universal sense, a hacker also means someone who makes things work beyond perceived limits in a clever way in general, for example reality hackers.
Bruce Perens — one of the founders of the Open Source Initiative. He was the former Debian GNU/Linux Project Leader, and is the primary author of the Open Source Definition.
Eric S. Raymond — also one of the founders of the Open Source Initiative. He wrote the famous text The Cathedral and the Bazaar and many other essays. He also maintains the Jargon File for the Hacker culture, which was previously maintained by Guy L. Steele, Jr..
Richard Stallman — founder of the free software movement and the GNU project, and president of the Free Software Foundation. Author of the famous Emacs text editor and the Gnu Compiler Collection (GCC).
 Hobby Hackers
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Main article: Hacker (hobbyist)
The hobby hacking subculture relates to the hobbyist home computing of the late 1970s, beginning with the availability of MITS Altair. An influential organization was the Homebrew Computer Club.
The areas that didn't fit together with the academic hacker subculture focus mainly on commercial computer and video games, software cracking and exceptional computer programming (demo scene), but also to the modification of computer hardware and other electronic devices, see modding.
Steve Wozniak — Computer engineer who created the Apple I and Apple II series computers and, with Steve Jobs, founded Apple Computer (now Apple Inc.). He is known in the hacker community as "Woz" or "The other Steve." Woz came up with some ingenious hardware hacks to bring those machines to completion. He also had a background in the network hacker subculture before this and did blue boxing.
William Henry Gates III (Bill Gates) — is the co-founder and chairman of Microsoft Corporation. Although he personally demonstrated considerable personal coding skill early in his company's history , he is most widely recognizable today as one of the world's richest individuals. Formerly CEO, in June 2006 he also stepped down as chief software architect.
 Overlaps and differences
The main basic difference between academic and computer security hackers is their separate historical origin and development. The Jargon File reports that although considerable overlap existed for the early phreaking at the beginning of the 1970s, it quickly started to break when people joined in the activity who did it in a less responsible way.
Academic hackers usually work openly and use their real name, while computer security hackers prefer secretive groups and identity-concealing aliases. Also, their activities in practice are largely distinct. The former focus on creating new and improving existing infrastructure (especially the software environment they work with), while the latter primarily and strongly emphasize the general act of circumvention of security measures, with the effective use of the knowledge (which can be to report and help fixing the security bugs, or exploitation for criminal purpose) being only rather secondary. The most visible difference in these views was in the design of the MIT hackers' Incompatible Timesharing System, which deliberately didn't have any security measures.
There are some subtle overlaps, however, since basic knowledge about computer security is also common within the academic hacker community. For example, Ken Thompson noted during his 1983 Turing Award lecture that it is possible to add code to the UNIX "login" command that would accept either the intended encrypted password or a particular known password, allowing a back door into the system with the latter password. He named his invention the "Trojan horse." Furthermore, Thompson argued, the C compiler itself could be modified to automatically generate the rogue code, to make detecting the modification even harder. Because the compiler is itself a program generated from a compiler, the Trojan horse could also be automatically installed in a new compiler program, without any detectable modification to the source of the new compiler.
The academic hacker community sees secondary circumvention of security mechanisms as legitimate if it is done to get practical barriers out of the way for doing actual work. In special forms, that can even be an expression of playful cleverness. However, the systematic and primary engagement in such activities is not one of the actual interests of the academic hacker subculture and it doesn't have significance in its actual activities, either. A further difference is that, historically, academic hackers were working at academic institutions and used the computing environment there. In contrast, the prototypical computer security hacker had access exclusively to a home computer and a modem.
Since the mid-1980s, there are some overlaps in ideas and members with the computer security hacking community. The most prominent case is Robert T. Morris, who was a user of MIT-AI, yet wrote the Morris worm. The Jargon File hence calls him "a true hacker who blundered". Nevertheless, members of the academic subculture have a tendency to look down on and disassociate from these overlaps. They commonly refer disparagingly to people in the computer security subculture as crackers, and refuse to accept any definition of hacker that encompasses such activities (see the Hacker definition controversy). The computer security hacking subculture on the other hand tends not to distinguish between the two subcultures as harshly, instead acknowledging that they have much in common including many members, political and social goals, and a love of learning about technology. They restrict the use of the term cracker to their categories of script kiddies and black hat hackers instead.
There is also overlap into the other direction. Since the mid-1990s, with home computers that could run Unix-like operating systems and with inexpensive internet home access being available for the first time, many people from outside of the academic world started to take part in the academic hacking subculture.
All three subcultures have relations to hardware modifications. In the early days of network hacking, phreaks were building blue boxes and various variants. The academic hacker culture has stories about several hardware hacks in its folklore, such as a mysterious 'magic' switch attached to a PDP-10 computer in MIT's AI lab, that, when turned off, crashed the computer. The early hobbyist hackers built their home computers themselves, from construction kits. However, all these activities have died out during the 1980s, when the phone network switched to digitally controlled switchboards, causing network hacking to shift to dialling remote computers with modems, when preassembled inexpensive home computers were available, and when academic institutions started to give individual mass-produced workstation computers to scientists instead of using a central timesharing system. The only kind of widespread hardware modification nowadays is case modding.
An encounter of the academic and the computer security hacker subculture occurred at the end of the 1980s, when a group of hackers, sympathizing with the Chaos Computer Club (who disclaimed any knowledge in these activities), broke into computers of American military organizations and academic institutions. They sold data from these machines to the Soviet secret service, one of them in order to fund his drug addiction. The case could be solved when scientists from the environment of the academic hacker subculture found ways to log the attacks and to trace them back. 23, a German film adaption with ficitional elements, shows the events from the attackers' perspective. Clifford Stoll, one of the system administrators who helped to catch them, described the case in his book The Cuckoo's Egg and in the TV documentary The KGB, the Computer, and Me from the other perspective.
 See also
History of free software
Timeline of computer security hacker history
^ See the 1981 version of the Jargon File, entry "hacker", last meaning.
^ (October 16, 2002). "Computer hacking: Where did it begin and how did it grow?". WindowSecurity.com.
^ Detroit Free Press, September 27, 1983
^ Elmer-DeWitt, Philip (Aug. 29, 1983), "The 414 Gang Strikes Again", Time magazine: p. 75, <http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,949797,00.html>
^ "Beware: Hackers at play", Newsweek: pp. 42-46,48, September 5, 1983
^ Timeline: The U.S. Government and Cybersecurity. Washington Post (2002). Retrieved on 2006-04-14.
^ David Bailey, "Attacks on Computers: Congressional Hearings and Pending Legislation," sp, p. 180, 1984 IEEE Symposium on Security and Privacy, 1984.
^ Thompson, Ken (August 1984). "Reflections on Trusting Trust". Communications of the ACM 27 (8).
^ Eric S. Raymond: A Brief History of Hackerdom (2000)
^ Graham, Paul (2004). Great Hackers.
^ See for example the MIT Gallery of Hacks
^ Article from The Register 
^ Archive.org cache of discussion of Altair Basic source code 
^ Microsoft Press release June 2006 
 Related books
Computer security hacking
Logik Bomb: Hacker's Encyclopedia (1997)
Katie Hafner & John Markoff: Cyberpunk: Outlaws and Hackers on the Computer Frontier (Simon & Schuster, 1991), ISBN 0-671-68322-5.
Sterling, Bruce (1992). The Hacker Crackdown. Bantam. ISBN 0-553-08058-X.
Slatalla, Michelle; Joshua Quittner (1995). Masters of Deception: The Gang That Ruled Cyberspace. HarperCollins. ISBN 0-06-017030-1.
Dreyfus, Suelette (1997). Underground: Tales of Hacking, Madness and Obsession on the Electronic Frontier. Mandarin. ISBN 1-86330-595-5.
Verton, Dan (2002). The Hacker Diaries : Confessions of Teenage Hackers. McGraw-Hill Osborne Media. ISBN 0-07-222364-2.
von Busch, O, and Karl Palmas (2007). Abstract Hacktivism: The making of a hacker culture. OpenMUTE. ISBN 978-0955479625.
Eric S. Raymond, Guy L. Steele (Eds.): The New Hacker's Dictionary (The MIT Press, 1996), ISBN 0262680920
Levy, Steven (1984). Hackers: Heroes of the Computer Revolution. Doubleday. ISBN 0-385-19195-2.
Turkle, Sherry (1984),The Second Self: Computers and the Human Spirit , New Edition: MIT Press 2005, ISBN 0262701111
Graham, Paul (2004). Hackers and Painters. ISBN 0-59-600662-4.
 External links
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Interview with Steven Levy: About the different hacker subcultures and their relations.
The Word "Hacker"
Computer security hacking
The Ten Biggest Legends of the Hacker Universe
Hacking in 17 easy steps, by Doug Mclean.
Portraits of Open Source Pioneers
How To Become A Hacker by Eric S. Raymond
The Hacker Community and Ethics: An interview with Richard M. Stallman, 2002
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