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Hacking, more accurately referred to as cracking, typically refers to the act of penetrating a computer system or network. Hacking also may refer to a number of other activities, both legal and illegal. These include:

  • Modifying software or hardware in order to violate copyright law or software licensing agreements (this is also referred to as "cracking" and "piracy")
  • Modifying software or hardware for extra functionality or performance
  • Creating software or devices to solve problems
  • Using an existing computer system in an unusual, clever way to solve a problem
  • Staging pranks

Hackers act for a variety of reasons, ranging from curiosity and bragging rights to personal gain or vandalism.

Crackers who act with criminal intent are known as "black hat" hackers. Crackers who don't have a criminal intent (e.g., those paid by software companies to research security issues or investigate new computer viruses) are referred to as "white hat".

See also