"There is a community, a shared culture, of expert programmers and networking wizards that traces its history back through decades to the first time-sharing minicomputers and the earliest ARPAnet experiments. The members of this culture originated the term 'hacker'. Hackers built the Internet. Hackers made the Unix operating system what it is today. Hackers run Usenet. Hackers make the World Wide Web work. If you are part of this culture, if you have contributed to it and other people know who you are and call you a hacker, you're a hacker.
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There is another group of people who loudly call themselves hackers, but aren't. These are people (mainly adolescent males) who get a kick out of breaking into computers and phreaking the phone system. Real hackers call these people 'crackers' and want nothing to do with them. Real hackers mostly think crackers are lazy, irresponsible, and not very bright, and object that being able to break security doesn't make you a hacker any more than being able to hotwire cars makes you an automotive engineer. Unfortunately, many journalists and writers have been fooled into using the word 'hacker' to describe crackers; this irritates real hackers to no end.
The basic difference is this: hackers build things, crackers break them."
----The above quote is taken from How To Become A Hacker, by Eric Steven Raymond. Please feel free to read the rest of the text. It contain a lot of good information about hacker attitude, skills, culture, and more.
Hacking is a two-edged sword which often falls within the grey areas of the law. Used responsibly, it can be used to find and fix security problems on computer systems, improve operating systems (Linux is open-source software which has been totally built by hackers and is continually improved upon by hackers), track down computer criminals, and much more. WARNING: By using hacking skills irresponsibly you will quickly run afoul of the law. If you insist on using your skills to commit crime, you might want to start by reading this: Everything A Hacker Needs To Know About Getting Busted By The Feds, Written by Agent Steal (from Federal Prison, 1997).
Hacker's Dictionary (also known as the "jargon file") is a huge, comprehensive
compendium of hacker slang, illuminating many aspects of hacker traditions,
folklore, and humor. This site contains much of the information that is
in the book
The New Hacker's Dictionary.
DEF CON A hacker's convention which has become an annual event. DEF CON 9 will be held July 13-15, 2001 in Las Vegas, NV.
The Hacker News Network delivers the real news from the computer underground for the computer underground. Their reporting is not dumbed down to match the computer illiteracy of the average TV viewer. You will not see the terms "hacker" and "criminal" used interchangeably.
Hackers.com One of the prettiest hacker sites in existance. You will find plenty of useful content to dig through.
Happy Hacker This is an excellent web site put up by Carolyn Meinel which includes The Guides to (mostly) Harmless Hacking, Happy Hacker Digests, Hacker Links, Hacker Wargames, Help for Beginners, and much more. If you wish to use your hacking skills to fight crime on the Internet, she also includes a list of organizations who would welcome your help in the war to keep the Internet free and safe. Carolyn Meinel has also written two excellent books: The Happy Hacker and Uberhacker! -- How to Break into Computers, with CD-ROM. Both these wonderful books are on my bookshelf. You can obtain these books directly from her web site.
Insecure.org Lots of info on computer security, exploits, hacking and more.
Rootshell Excellent source for hacking news, exploits, and lots of online documentation on hacking and computer systems.
2600: The Hacker Quarterly covers subjects such as phreaking, hacking, cellular phones, scanners, hardware, credit cards, and much more.