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Difference between Hacker and Cracker: All that You Need to Know

Difference between Hacker and Cracker: All that You Need to Know

Nausheen Fatima
“Hacking involves a Different Way of Looking at Problems that No One’s Thought of” - Walter O’ Brien

In common usage, the word ‘hack’ refers to acquiring illegitimate access to data in a digital system. Consequently, what does the word ‘hacker’ convey to you?

I am sure you would immediately conjure a mental image of a man with a black hoodie, trying to break into a computer system through unauthorized means. However, this is too simplistic an assumption.

In reality, the word ‘hacker’ might not imply such a cyber criminal. This leads us then to the question of what is the difference between a Hacker and a Cracker. For a lay man, an understanding of these technical differences might not be so significant.

However, the issue of Hacker vs. Cracker is very much a real one and should definitely be made sense of, especially by those seeking to understand the Cyberspace at large, along with computer and internet security.

In this blog, we shall look at the difference between Hacker and Cracker. The issue of Cracker vs. Hacker will be sought to be sufficiently dealt with by trying to understand the two terms at length.

Moreover, in order to do away with the generalized thinking which accompanies the word ‘hacker’; the topic of, Hacker vs. Cracker Difference will be elaborately explained, by referring to the different terms and programs and software tools which are related to the given issue.

Hacker vs. Cracker: Who are Hackers?

Hackers are ‘noble’ computer experts or programmers who possess extensive knowledge of coding and programming in order to perform legal intrusion of a computer or network system, with the objective of detecting possible security loopholes, infrastructure weaknesses or vulnerabilities, which can become potential gateways for a Cyber Attack

Hackers do not work with the intention to steal data or even harming the system. In this respect, they indulge in Ethical Hacking in order to safeguard the network infrastructure against hackers and crackers.

who are hackers

Ethical Hacking or Penetration Testing has emerged as one of the coveted specialised fields within the domain of Cyber Security.

Ethical Hackers are in high demand within organizations cutting across industries. If you wish to know more on how to initiate your career in the field, do read our blog on “Learn Ethical Hacking from Scratch: Know How

Hackers play a crucial role in testing the cyber defences of an organization. They are specifically recruited by companies in order to identify flaws and defects in security and network systems.

In fact, even before executing the act of hacking, hackers are liable to acquire Written Formal Permission from the owners of the organization. For instance, the help of hackers is widely sought by Law Enforcement Agencies in order to acquire more information on cyber criminals.

Cracker vs. Hacker: Who are Crackers?

Crackers are essentially ‘malicious and evil’ computer experts or programmers who use their technical proficiency and expertise for breaking a network infrastructure or computer system in order to gain unauthorized access.

The illegality of the actions performed by Crackers is one of the most important differences between Cracker and Hacker. Unlike Hackers, crackers hackers misuse their knowledge for their own vested interests and personal and financial gains.

The illegitimate access acquired by Crackers might result in data theft, data leakage or data deletion.

who are crackers

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Difference between Hacker and Cracker

In this section, we shall look at the issue of Hacker vs. Cracker through a comparative table.

Basis Hacker Cracker
Definition Individuals guided by ‘good’ intentions for acquiring legal/legitimate access into a system or network, with the purpose of detecting vulnerabilities, rectifying flaws and improving the overall security of the system Individuals guided by ‘bad’ intentions for acquiring illegal/illegitimate access into a system or network, with the purpose of stealing sensitive or confidential data or harming the system permanently
Roles and Responsibilities They are often recruited by organizations as they help them in safeguarding their data and network infrastructure. They possess expertise in network safety They happen to be cyber criminals from whom organizations seek to safeguard their system. They look out for acquiring unauthorized access in lieu of their own selfish, vested interests. Their aim is to harm an organization
Skills They possess advanced knowledge of programming languages, coding, and computer operating systems Crackers might not be as skilled as Hackers. Few illegal hacks might help them in accomplishing their evil purpose of stealing data and as such they are not required to possess extensive skills
Also known as White Hat Hackers/Ethical Hackers Black Hat Hackers/Unethical Hackers
Tools They make use of their own set of professional legal tools for evaluating network security and strength as well as for safeguarding the organization from cyber threats They do not have tools of their own and make use of tools used by others for performing illegal activities
Professional Ethics Ethical Unethical
Certification These are certified individuals who are legally sanctioned to perform the act of hacking. For instance, XCEH Certificates These individuals are not legally certified. Moreover, crackers prefer to stay anonymous
Data Security Hackers are responsible for ensuring the security of data. Their aim is simply to acquire information from the data of the system Crackers are responsible for breaching all forms of data security. They generally delete, steal or corrupt data.

Hacker vs. Cracker Difference: Understanding the Terms related to the Topic

The field of Cyber Security in itself is a vast one. There exist infinite concepts and terminologies.

It is quite common that you might end up confusing one with the other. For the purpose of conceptual clarity, when you are looking at the difference between Cracker and Hacker; it is important to be aware of some of the associated terms as well. 

  • Elite Hacker

An Elite Hacker is a phrase used to refer to the most competent hacker. These hackers are like heads of groups, who spread newly found exploits.

  • Black Hat Hacker 

These are individuals who acquire illegal and unauthorized access to a system and use their skills for breaching confidential information.

Their objective is generally to steal critical data, disrupt the operation of the system, block network connection or perform other kinds of malicious activities.

  • White Hat Hacker

These are Ethical Hackers who perform the task of Penetration Testing and Vulnerability Assessment. They do break into a system, but they do so by remaining within the legal boundaries of rules set by the organization.

They act as security specialists whose role is to identify vulnerabilities and flaws in the existing system which can potentially be misused.

  • Grey Hat Hacker 

These individuals share the traits of a black and a white hat hacker. Like a white hat hacker, the intention of a grey hat hacker for hacking a system is not necessarily bad; and like a black hat hacker, a grey hat hacker also do not have permission to break into the system.

However, unlike a black hat hacker, they do not exploit the vulnerabilities and generally report the same to the owner in lieu of small rewards.

types of hackers
  • Blue Hat Hacker

This individual works outside the confines of computer security consulting firms. They are responsible for bug testing software products, before they are released.

  • Suicide Hacker

As the name suggests, these are reckless individuals. Their objective is to bring down vital network infrastructure for a specific motive.

At the same time, they generally do not care about the consequences of the same, which might even land them in prison.

  • Script Kiddie

This individual is one who has very little experience in the field of hacking. They seek to acquire access to computer systems and networks with the help of pre-existing tools created by others.

  • Neophyte

Also known as a newbie or noob; this person is someone who is completely new to the world of hacking. They have little and mostly no knowledge of how hacking operates.

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It is evident that the difference between Hacker and Cracker is more of an effort to establish conceptual clarity of the terms used within the discipline. In common usage, the term, ‘Hacker’ does carry negative connotations and for most individuals, the term, ‘Cracker’ within the field of Cyber Security, might be completely unknown. Even then, the issue of Hacker vs. Cracker is definitely a real one and as such should be taken account of as one seeks to acquire disciplinary expertise. 

Given the immense damage that Cyber Attacks can result in for organizations and individuals alike; the role of Cyber Security experts is no less than that of a savior. Since data is the foundation stone of most organizations; an effort to safeguard the same has become an urgent need for all. Consequently, the prospects of a career in Cyber Security are infinite and unimaginable. We, at Syntax Technologies, offer you the lucrative opportunities of acquiring expertise akin to a Cyber Security expert, from the comfort of your homes. Enrol now for our Cyber Security course.

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Nausheen Fatima
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