In the world of cyberspace, the difference between hacking and cracking is great.
Profile of a hacker.
Hackers generally like to think of themselves as an elite group of information seekers who are adept at exploring computer systems and networks. Although hacking into network computer systems is illegal, hackers believe it is ethically acceptable as long as a hacker does not commit theft, vandalism or breach any confidentiality -- the so-called hacker code of ethics. In fact, many hackers believe it is their responsibility to seek out security holes in computer networks so that systems administrators may fix them. "If we can share what we've learned with everybody and then publish it," L0pht hacker Wedge stated in a NewsHour interview, " that's great."
Profile of a cracker.
But not all hackers follow a code of ethics. Those who break into computer systems with malicious intent are known in the hacking world as crackers. The word itself was devised by hackers who wanted to differentiate themselves from crackers. Whereas hackers possess a great deal of knowledge of computers and generally write their own hacking programs, crackers tend to be young and unskilled.
As Jeff Schiller, head of network security at M.I.T, stated in a NewsHour interview, "most of the crackers we are dealing with are not experts, they are not very sophisticated." They do most of their cracking by downloading free hacking software from hacker Web sites. Although they lack the technical skills of hackers, crackers are considered dangerous because of their irresponsible use of sophisticated software.