What Is Hacking?

What is "hacking"?

Everyone has their own definition of what a "hacker" is. I was curious to see what Wikipedia had to say about the matter. As it turns out, there are a lot more references to hacking than I realized. At the time of this writing1 it says Security hacker is what we want. It has some information about the subculture, the history, and even the explanation of different "classifications"2 of hackers.

Seems easy enough, right? Well, there is also a note on the Security hacker entry that says "Not to be confused with Hacker or Hacker culture". If you follow the first link you will find all of the same information spun a different way, with slightly different names. I guess everyone really does have their own definition of what a hacker is.

One of my favorite tshirts has this definition of "hack" on the back:

hack (hăk)

  1. A clever, non-obvious solution to an interesting problem.
  2. An appropriate application of ingenuity to creatively overcome an obstacle or a limitation.
  3. The technical equivalent of chewing gum and duct tape.

In the end, I believe a "hacker" is more broad of a term. As in, someone that has above average skills, usually with technology. Whether it is phones, computers, or other hardware or software. Sure, anyone can operate an iPhone. But can you jailbreak it, and customize it with your own look and feel? I would consider those skills above and beyond and therefore, a hacker.

  1. April 2022. 

  2. "White hat" vs "black hat". I think the distinction between white hat and black hat is a little cringey and in most circles, considered media jargon. In my opinion, these days the difference really comes down to a paycheck and motive. Sure, there is some overlap with people that are hired for nefarious purposes, but in many cases the dream is to get a job that pays good money, especially those that allow working remotely.3 Bug bounties4 are also a good way to practice and earn some money. 

  3. There is currently a huge contraversy in Silicon Valley about employees having to return to the office after managing just fine for two years. 

  4. TODO: Bug bounty explantation.