Cybersecurity Glossary: Hacker

A hacker is an unauthorized user who breaks into computer systems to steal, change or destroy information, often by installing dangerous malware without the knowledge or consent of the device’s rightful owner or user.

The concept of hacking entered the computer culture at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in the 1960s. Popular opinion at MIT posited that there are two kinds of students: tools and hackers. A “tool” is someone who attends class regularly, is always to be found in the library when no class is meeting, and gets straight As. A “hacker” was the opposite: someone who never goes to class, who sleeps all day, and who spends the night pursuing recreational activities rather than studying.

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