The changing meaning of the word "hacker"
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Thread: The changing meaning of the word "hacker"

  1. #1
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    The changing meaning of the word "hacker"

    I have notice that while being here in AO that people are very passioate(sp?) about the term hacker and cracker and the difference between them. And I'm fed up with people bitching about the difference, so I have done some reasearch into weather or not the meaning of the word "hacker" has changed (just like other words do e.g. gay)

    And this is what I have found

    www.yourdictionary.com
    hack·er1
    (click to hear the word) (hkr)
    n. Informal
    One who is proficient at using or programming a computer; a computer buff.
    One who uses programming skills to gain illegal access to a computer network or file.
    One who enthusiastically pursues a game or sport: a weekend tennis hacker.
    so here hacker means both cracker and hacker

    dictionary.reference.com
    Source: The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition
    Copyright © 2000 by Houghton Mifflin Company.
    Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.
    [Buy it]

    hack·er1 ( P ) Pronunciation Key (hkr)
    n. Informal
    One who is proficient at using or programming a computer; a computer buff.
    One who uses programming skills to gain illegal access to a computer network or file.
    One who enthusiastically pursues a game or sport: a weekend tennis hacker.
    again the same result

    www.dict.org
    hacker n. [originally, someone who makes furniture with an axe] 1. 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. 2. One who programs enthusiastically
    (even obsessively) or who enjoys programming rather than just theorizing
    about programming. 3. A person capable of appreciating hack value. 4.
    A person who is good at programming quickly. 5. An expert at a
    particular program, or one who frequently does work using it or on it;
    as in `a Unix hacker'. (Definitions 1 through 5 are correlated, and
    people who fit them congregate.) 6. An expert or enthusiast of any kind.
    One might be an astronomy hacker, for example. 7. One who enjoys the
    intellectual challenge of creatively overcoming or circumventing
    limitations. 8. [deprecated] A malicious meddler who tries to discover
    sensitive information by poking around. Hence `password hacker',
    `network hacker'. The correct term for this sense is cracker.
    This surports that hacker and cracker are different

    dictionary.cambridge.org
    from Cambridge Advanced Learner's Dictionary)
    hack (COMPUTING) verb [I] [+ adverb or preposition]
    to get into someone else's computer system without permission in order to find out information or do something illegal:
    Computer hacking has become very widespread over the last decade.
    A programmer had managed to hack into some top-secret government data.

    hacker noun [C] (ALSO computer hacker)
    someone who hacks into other people's computer systems
    show the meaning has changed


    As you can see even the internet dictionarys(sp?) dont agree, so what does everyone else think?

    Has the meaning of the word hacker changed (weather we like or not)?

    SittingDuck
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  2. #2
    Senior Member Zonewalker's Avatar
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    I really don't think it matters what label you wish to attach to 'yourself' (in the generic sense rather than you personally)- speaking for myself I prefer not to conform to any kind of label and I think these kind of discussions are a bit of a waste of time.... especially as I would say this would be better off in cosmos or GCC.... lets face it this isn't really a security question is it?

    I'm not having a go or anything SittingDuck and I do respect your desire to want to talk about this but come on....

    Z

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  3. #3
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    fair point about it being in the wrong form. Is it possible for a mod to move it to GCC?
    I\'m a SittingDuck, but the question is \"Is your web app a Sitting Duck?\"

  4. #4
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    Ok a hacker to me is someone who can brake in to systems has a passion for puters etc a cracker to me is some one who cracks serials on games etc i think people started calling themselfs hacker because they couldnt brake security on a box or got bored trying and decided to call hackers who can breach security crackers so they could have the term hacker that is all just my person opinion
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  5. #5
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    A labeling system is bad for ppl anyway I think it was the early media that start this labeling thing anyway :-, or maybe it was the wealthy. It just a stupid way to put someone into a certain class. Like the stupid High class, Middle class and Low class income families. There is no class they just make U think their is. Since with all there wealth they think there are better than anyone who does have to work for a living.

    I'm me that's all that I can be. If U into labeling UR self then it's OK with me. It's just only falling into their trap. Just do want U love and have fun at doing it.

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    *Moved to General Chit Chat*

  7. #7
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    Thank you Negative

    SittingDuck
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    I think its telling that most of the true dictionaries have a meaning for hacker in the malicious sense, and only the one run by the open source zealots (tainted by the influence of one RMS) www.dict.org make a differentiation between a hacker and a cracker. As I have said before this confusion can be traced back to RMS and some other USNET geeks of the mid 90’s who tried to redefine language. My suggestion would be to let the bad programmers in the open source movement call themselves what ever they want to but keep the definitions in the security world the same as they have always been.

    The only sad thing is the original definition of cracker has been lost, some one who defeats the copy protection of a program, but as copy protection went away in the mid 90's so did crackers.

    [edit] Admittedly I am being as much of a zealot as the open source folks. What we have here is not truly the redefining of words, but one word that has two different definitions that developed concurrently and independently. As this is a security community and not an open source community we should us the security definition of the terms. As a model railroad guy I could argue that hacker shouldn't apply to computers at all as the model railroad community coined the term in the 1950's, but again this is a security board not a model railroad board.[/edit]
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