What Makes A Hacker Hack And A Cracker Crack?

There are as many reasons for hacking as there are hackers.

Personality traits of a hacker

It’s hard to pin down just a few personality traits that define a hacker. A typical hacker profile is a male, age 14 to 40, with above-average intelligence, obsessively inquisitive with regards to technology, non-conformist, introverted, and with broad intellectual interests. A hacker is driven to learn everything he can about any subject that interests him.

In fact, most hackers that excel with technology also have proficiency in no technological hobbies or interests. Hackers tend to devour information, hoarding it away for some future time when a random bit of technical trivia may help them solve an intriguing problem. Hackers seem especially fond of complex intellectual challenges and will move on to a new project once the challenge and novelty wears off.

What Makes A Hacker Hack And A Cracker Crack

Personality traits of a cracker

Contrast this with the following cracker/script kiddy profile and you start to get an idea of why hackers resent being lumped in with crackers. The average cracker or script kiddy (in the United States) is a 14- to 28-year old white male, usually intelligent but academically underachieving, who lives in his parents’ basement and collects comic books (OK, I added those last two).

Cultural and behavioral distinctions between groups can help identify a cracker because they often leave clues when they deface a Web site or break into a computer.

Crackers and script kiddies differ from ethical hackers. They often lack social skills, are loners (most hackers I know love company), and show poor judgment and impulse control. Where a hacker may work for days or weeks to solve a particularly difficult problem, a script kiddy lacks the discipline to even begin to become a competent programmer and so depends on code written by real hackers.

Financial gain motivates some crackers. Credit card and bank fraud present opportunities to use cracking to increase personal wealth.

Cracker/script kiddy culture sees stealing from large corporations as a kind of Robin Hood game. While major financial crimes involving crackers are not commonplace, there have been instances of theft on a grand scale by the more talented among them.

In 1994, a Russian computer programmer stole millions of dollars from Citibank accounts. The cracker, Vladimir Levin, was part of a group that created a complicated scheme of wire transfers and pickup all over the world.

Now read more about hackers, crackers and script kiddies.

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.

Comments

  1. I wouldnt really say lack of impulse control..just a habit for spur of the moment actions. Meaning we atleast think a little about stupid decisions before we make them, lol.

  2. What sort of hacking do you do?

  3. Yes, I am a black female :)

    I became interested in computers at a very young age because my father was into them. When I was little I took computers apart, studied the parts, and put them back together but that was about all I did. In middle school I was introduced to programming and computer security. I did independent research and self-teaching. I love creating things and learning about what makes computers and the Internet tick. I still have a lot to learn, but I investigate and practice my skills everyday. I’m now a freshman in college majoring in Computer Science. :)

  4. I was actually writing in very general terms as there is a lot of different variations of both hackers and crackers.

    Its good to hear how you operate and why, so thanks for commenting.

  5. A black(?) female hacker is indeed rare, relatively speaking.

    What made you decide to become a hacker?

  6. I would agree that most hackers are white males, although I am neither white nor male.

  7. Your writing is pretty condescending in regards to the crackers… for instance, i am a php-pwning script-sabertooth, almost forced into this roll because all i wanted to do was create fun ui and design digitally. To be honest, i HATED all things digital until around 9-11-01. That day sent me to design school, introducing me to photoshop!! :)… a few years in print design can drive an artist mad, so i choose this road… Crackers should be credited with innovating the game. Programming now, is based on a system or predecessors built for us! I’m not about start a beef, i just want to help justify how some of us crackers happened! have a good winter! -world threat

  8. I totally agree with your comment about the media bending the term ‘hacker’ to fit their needs.

    As for this article, it was meant to be short, and therefore relies upon many generalisations that obviously don’t perfectly fit every individual or situation.

    I’ve written more about hackers in another post – http://www.scamtypes.com/what-are-the-main-differences-between-hackers-and-crackers.html – where I go into much more detail about the various different types of hackers and their motivations.

  9. Of course all crackers are white males =)

    No, but seriously. The mainstream media have already stolen the definition of the word “hacker” and will always mean “some nerd who fucks up computer systems for personal gain”, whether we like it or not.

    Also, I wouldn’t call for example Loyd Blankenship a hacker according to your definition. This guy wrote the “hacker manifesto” and he is a role model for the hacker culture. He was a cyber criminal, and I don’t see how it can be justified by curiousity or the mad skills he possesses. Sadly, the term hacker is often used to sugarcoat the evil deeds of cyber criminals. I think us netizens need to come up with new words to avoid causing confusion.

  10. Harold P. Barracuda says:

    “In 1994, a Russian computer programmer stole millions of dollars from Citibank accounts. The cracker, Vladimir Levin, was part of a group that created a complicated scheme of wire transfers and pickup all over the world.”

    You mean the bloke who logged into the dial up account and transferred money between accounts was a “cracker”?

    Get real. It was an inside job, and they were caught very easily. They dialled in and used Citibank systems to move money from inactive accounts to their own, but by mistake used an active account which was quickly spotted.

    Very little technological skill was required to do this, it was just good old fashioned bribery and social engineering to get the login and account information in the first place.

  11. Lol, thats not the case at all, though I’m sure the majority of hackers and crackers are male.

    Would you agree?

  12. So, women don’t hack or crack? Damn. I’ll have to stop.

  13. Well spotted! That is, of course, exactly what I meant!

    Do you agree with what I wrote?

  14. You’re welcome and I’m glad you enjoyed it.

  15. THANK YOU!
    I’ve been needing things like that to help explain to my friends the differences between hackers and crackers!

  16. In fact, most hackers that excel with technology also have proficiency in no technological hobbies or interests.

    You mean “non-technical hobbies and interests.”

    As written, it means we aren’t any good at other technical hobbies or interests.

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