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This article was posted to the Usenet group alt.hackers in 1995; any technical information is probably outdated.

Hackers vs. Crackers

Article: 8878 of alt.hackers
From: (Greg Corey)
Newsgroups: alt.hackers
Subject: Hackers vs. Crackers
Date: Wed, 18 Oct 1995 04:02:18 GMT
Organization: CPU Wizards
Lines: 86
Message-ID: 461qpn$
X-Newsreader: Forte Free Agent 1.0.82
Status: RO (David Ljung) wrote:
>Well - I don't want to do anything malicious - but it seems that many
>people on this group (as well as the FAQ) have decided that there are
>three 'types' of people:

>hackers:	nice, gentle people who figure out how to format HD disks
>		and install second phone lines	;)
>crackers:	evil people who break into systems and do a 'rm -Rf /'
>phreakers:	losers who read phone docs and make free phone calls

>Okay, I'll agree with you on the 'phreakers' definition  ;)
>However, it seems you are missing a whole category of people, the people
>that I traditionally called hackers:

>hackers:	people who enjoy looking at systems and finding the loopholes
>		and corner cases and ways around that system.

>I think that is a more correct definition for hacker - and that means that
>would include people who come up with new ways to install phone lines
as well
>as people who figure out (not read up on) tricks to get into some of the
>most complex systems of all (computer systems).

As keeper of the FAQ, I find it kind of necessary to respond to this
statement.  Here's the excerpt from the FAQ:

A hacker is someone who hacks... However, one thing is crystal clear:
hacking, as the word is used here, is *not* about breaking things.  The
media has used "hacker" to mean someone who breaks into computer
systems for
10+ years.  They are using the word incorrectly.  Those people are correctly
called "crackers".

hack <P> 1. n. Originally, a quick job that produces what is needed,
but not well. 2. n. An incredibly good, and perhaps very time-
consuming, piece of work that produces exactly what is needed. 4. vt.
To work on something (typically a program). In an immediate sense:
"What are you doing?" "I'm hacking TECO." In a general
extended) sense: "What do you do around here?" "I hack
TECO." More
generally, "I hack `foo"' is roughly equivalent to "`foo'
is my major
interest (or project)". "I hack solid-state physics." See
Hacking X for Y.
6. vi. To interact with a computer in a playful and exploratory rather than
goal-directed way. "Whatcha up to?" "Oh, just hacking."

Note definition 6 above.  A hacker COULD break into systems, but generally
wouldn't harm anything purposefully.

I have anguished over changing that portion of the FAQ to include more
definitions which fit into that grey area between hacking and cracking, but
have decided not to.  Here's why:

#0)  If I put anything in the FAQ about cracking, crackers might want to
stick around.  Not to mention the fact that I would probably get about 20
more Emails a week than I currently get.

#1)  If I put anything in the FAQ about cracking, genteel folk might not
want to stay.

#2)  (Least important, but bears mentioning)  If I put anything in the FAQ
about cracking, people might assume that I condone or support cracking.
This could lead to all sorts of legal trouble, so it's easiest to just leave
it alone.

As a side note, some of you who have emailed me lately might have noticed
the way I numbered the items above, and might take it to mean something.

You would be taking it correctly.


I was in need of the latest copy of Eudora for a client.  I FTPed it from a
local server only to find that someone had ZIPPED the compressed files in a
Microsoft format (WEUDORA.EX_ for example).  It came with an expander... but
NO definer for what the extension was supposed to be.

Well, the .ex_, .in_, and .hl_ files were easy enough to figure out.  But
some of the others I had no clues.  SO...

Out came the hex editor, and I searched weudora.exe and the other files for
the correct extensions.  Fortunately, I found them.

Not really tough, but hey, no hack too small, right?

(PS:  That part of the FAQ is NEVER going to change).

 -- Greg Corey	       | All opinions are my own, no warranty made or | implied.  Send complaints to


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