A person, who delights in having an intimate understanding of the internal workings of a system, computers, and computer networks in particular. It is used to refer to someone skilled in the use of computer systems, especially if that skill was obtained in an exploratory way. The term is often misused in a pejorative context, where “cracker” would be the correct term. And due to that, the term evolved to be applied to individuals, with or without skill, who break into security systems.
Several subgroups of the computer underground with different attitudes and aims use different terms to demarcate themselves from each other or try to exclude some specific group with which they do not agree. In hackers culture, there are many different categories, such as white hat (“ethical hacking”), grey hat, black hat, and script kiddie. Usually, the term cracker refers to black hat hackers, or more generally hackers with unlawful intentions.
A white hat is a hero or good guy, especially in computing slang, where it refers to an ethical hacker or penetration tester who focuses on securing and protecting IT systems. White Hat Hackers, also known as Ethical Hackers, are Computer Security experts, who specialize in penetration testing, and other testing methodologies, to ensure that a company’s information systems are secure.
Such people are employed by companies where these professionals are sometimes called sneakers, tiger teams, or red teams.
A grey hat, in the hacking community, refers to a skilled hacker who sometimes acts legally, sometimes in goodwill, and sometimes not. They are a hybrid between white and black hat hackers.
They usually do not hack for personal gain or have malicious intentions, but may or may not occasionally commit crimes during the course of their technological exploits.
A black hat is a villain or bad guy. It refers to a hacker that breaks into networks or computers or creates computer viruses. Black Hat Hackers (also called “crackers”) are hackers who specialize in unauthorized penetration of information systems. They may use computers to attack systems for profit, for fun, or for political motivations, or as a part of a social cause. Such penetration often involves modification and/or destruction of data, and is done without authorization and hence they should not be confused with ethical hackers.
Phreaking is a slang term coined to describe the activity of a subculture of people who study, experiment with, or explore telecommunication systems, like equipment and systems connected to public telephone networks. As telephone networks have become computerized, Phreaking has become closely linked with computer hacking. This is sometimes called the H/P culture (with H standing for hacking and P standing for Phreaking).
The term “phreaking” is a mixture of the words “phone” and “freak”, and may also refer to the use of various audio frequencies to manipulate a phone system. “Phreaking”, or “phone phreaking” are names used for and by individuals who participate in phreaking.
In hacker culture, a script kiddie, occasionally script bunny, skiddie, script kitty, script-running juvenile (SRJ), or similar, is a derogatory term used to describe those who use scripts or programs developed by others to attack computer systems and networks. It is generally assumed that script kiddies are like amateur kids who lack the ability to write sophisticated hacking programs or exploits on their own and that their objective is to try to impress their friends or gain credit in underground hacker communities.
Some people describing themselves as hacktivists have taken to defacing websites for political reasons, such as attacking and defacing government websites as well as websites of groups who oppose their ideology. Hacktivist is a mixture of the words Hacker and Activist. Their activities include many political ideals and issues. Hacktivism is a controversial term.
Some argue it was joined to describe how electronic direct action might work toward social change by combining programming skills with critical thinking. Others use it as practically synonymous with malicious, destructive acts that undermine the security of the Internet as a technical, economic, and political platform.