If You Think Breaking Into An Email Account Makes You A Hacker Then Dream On

The word hacker has come to mean many things in the world of computing these days.

The word has been used and abused due to the popular media’s misunderstanding of it. In the earlier days of computing the word was used to mean someone who had a curiosity about technology but over the years it grew to mean something far more nefarious and devious. It started to to mean someone who was committing some sort of cyber crime – usually breaking into a private network, or performing an attack such as a DDOS.

Now people use the word to mean something as simple as guessing a password into someone’s email account. The word should be defined a lot better than it is now.

Social Engineering Isn’t Hacking

So, if you break into someone’s email, are you showing a high level of technical knowledge? Not really.

I would guess that the majority of email accounts are compromised through social engineering and there are no tech skills involved in an attack like that.

If, on the other hand, someone enters an email account by actually breaking through security measures then that could actually be referred to as a hack.

The fight over the word hacking is pretty much a lost cause, but it must not be allowed to devolve any further. It should be acceptable to consider someone a hacker if they break into a system. But it should not be acceptable to call someone a hacker because they have seen someone’s password written down on a piece of paper or have tricked them into revealing it.

Discrediting True Hackers

There are still a lot of of people that call themselves hackers and simple activities such as this only serves to discredit their work. Especially if they are considered a white hat hacker.

If you mix in the bad guys and the good guys then that will lead to confusion and unnecessary regulations brought about by the government. We should make sure that we leave enough room for white hat hackers to be able to do their job.

So, in conclusion, I guess the point I’m trying to make today is that we should learn to use the term ‘hacker’ in a manner that is appropriate and not for anything involving computer crime. Otherwise, the confusion can cause a lot of good people to have others consider what they do to be a very negative thing.

About Lee Munson

Lee's non-technical background allows him to write about internet security in a clear way that is understandable to both IT professionals and people just like you who need simple answers to your security questions.

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