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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.
Collins Discovery Encyclopedia, 1st edition © HarperCollins Publishers 2005


(computer science)
A person who uses a computer system without a specific, constructive purpose or without proper authorization.
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of Scientific & Technical Terms, 6E, Copyright © 2003 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.


(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".
This article is provided by FOLDOC - Free Online Dictionary of Computing (foldoc.org)


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).

It's Also Not Hollywood
Movies make it seem that a person can sit down at a computer and hack into some highly secured network in a matter of seconds. That is simply not true. In many cases, software is executed that searches for vulnerabilities. In addition, groups of people often work together to achieve results over time. 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.
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References in periodicals archive ?
A body of political though has emerged within technological circles, including the hacker community, which combines liberalism and technological utopianism--i.e., technolibertarianism (Jordan and Taylor 2004).
The need of hackers to gain recognition for their talent and accomplishments was identified by the industry respondents as being very important for many within the hacker community. Hackers join a community in part for mutual support but also a desire for recognition within the community (Wark, 2006).
Those who abhor the anarchism that moves the world hacker community will for yet another reason be well advised to look deeper and to see it within today's context.
That is because the same hackers will inform the media, or tech-savvy journalists, who spend their time browsing the online forums at which hackers congregate, or who have contacts within the hacker community, will find out.
Operating as a counter-culture in itself, the hacker community continues to feed off the young and impressionable minds to create the codes that would allow them to break in.
An old favorite of the hacker community, these attacks come at various protocols levels e.g.
Seventy percent of those sampled believe the number of malicious hackers--criminals motivated by economic gain--is less then 25% of the of hacker community.
These comments often unearthed understandings of the GPL that are part of the hacker community's custom but are not necessarily reflected in the words of the GPL.
Of the sites designed to steal credentials, almost 15 percent are derived from toolkits, an emerging tactic from the hacker community. These kits, made by professional malicious code writers, are often for sale on the internet and allow non-sophisticated users to launch sophisticated attacks against operating system exploits and vulnerabilities.
Lego even decided to embrace the hacker community, which has spent years altering the electronic brain of the system to make the robots perform beyond what Lego had intended.
The hacker community is certain to focus some of its efforts on this new market, and software patches which enable free access or hacked SIM cards could become a significant problem.