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Slang a computer fanatic, esp one who through a personal computer breaks into the computer system of a company, government, etc.


(computer science)
A person who uses a computer system without a specific, constructive purpose or without proper authorization.


(person, jargon)
(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 is cracker.

The term "hacker" also tends to connote membership in the global community defined by the net (see The Network and Internet address). It also implies that the person described is seen to subscribe to some version of the hacker ethic.

It is better to be described as a hacker by others than to describe oneself that way. Hackers consider themselves something of an elite (a meritocracy based on ability), though one to which new members are gladly welcome. Thus while it is gratifying to be called a hacker, false claimants to the title are quickly labelled as "bogus" or a "wannabee".

9. (University of Maryland, rare) A programmer who does not understand proper programming techniques and principles and doesn't have a Computer Science degree. Someone who just bangs on the keyboard until something happens. For example, "This program is nothing but spaghetti code. It must have been written by a hacker".


A person who writes programs in assembly language or in system-level languages, such as C. The term often refers to any programmer, but its true meaning is someone with a strong technical background who is "hacking away" at the bits and bytes.

Hackers Have a Bad Name
During the 1990s, the term "hacker" became synonymous with "cracker," which is a person who performs some form of computer sabotage. The association is understandable. In order to be an effective cracker, you had to be a good hacker, thus the terms got intertwined, and hacker won out as the "bad guy" in the popular press (see hack).

However, sometimes, hackers are not worthy of the original meaning of the term. Today, a lot of malicious acts are performed by people with limited knowledge who gain unauthorized entrance into computers to steal data or perform mischief (see script kiddie). See cracker, white hat hacker, samurai and Anonymous.

Hackers Targeted the Internet
By the time this article appeared in 2000, hacker was a negative term to most people. This was a huge denial of service (DOS) attack on Yahoo, eBay, Amazon.com and other websites. (Article headline courtesy of the Philadelphia Inquirer.)

Friendly Competition
In 2012, RadioShack challenged "HackerSpace" groups from the East and West coasts to build something "awesome" with RadioShack's Arduino single-board computer. See Arduino.
References in periodicals archive ?
The Independent reported Monday that computer hackers obtained credit card data of the world's top political and business leaders, including Microsoft Corp.
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