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.
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.