Hackers Try to Clear Their Good Name

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In recent months the media has focused an uncomfortably bright light on the world of computer programmers, what with the Mitnick trial, the efforts to link the Columbine tragedy to video games, and the recent skirmishes between the FBI and the people who took down their web site. But with all the negative attention focused on them, some hackers are voicing a sense that they're being misrepresented. It boils down to this: It's not the hackers who are causing the trouble. It's the crackers, stupid.

According to The New Hacker's Dictionary, a guide to hacker jargon compiled by Eric Raymond, a hacker is "a person who enjoys exploring the details of programmable systems and how to stretch their capabilities." Nothing more. A cracker -- listen carefully -- is "one who breaks security on a system." MORE >>