Not every “hack” is bad, and not every hacker is a criminal. In fact, many hackers secure websites and companies from malicious actors. Here’s how the terms got started—and how they became misunderstood.
When most people think of hackers, they likely think of people attempting to crack into websites, steal credit cards, and attack governments. You might picture someone in a dark jacket and sunglasses, staring at a screen full of ones and zeroes as they take down an electrical grid. However, hacking rarely looks like that, and not every hacker is engaging in criminal activity.
The act of hacking is generally a neutral thing. The word “hack,” when applied to machines, was likely first used at M.I.T. in 1955. Originally, it just referred to “working on” a technology problem in a creative way—going beyond the instruction manual—with no negative connotation. Eventually, the term hacking broadly referred to using one’s expertise and technical knowledge to gain otherwise restricted access to a computing system.
There’s also a common modern meaning of thinking of a clever, unexpected, or unorthodox solution to a problem, especially outside of technology. See “life hacks.” The purpose of hacking can either be illegal, such as stealing personal data, or entirely above board, such as obtaining crucial information about a criminal operation.
The most common type of hacking reported on and portrayed in the media is known as “security hacking.” This is hacking done by looking for security weaknesses or exploits to penetrate a computer system or network. Security hacking can be done by individuals, groups, government agencies, companies, or nation-states. There are many communities that have formed around security hacking, some of which are underground.
The media is the biggest reason why many people think that all hackers are villains. In both the news and in fictional portrayals, hackers are almost always shown to be thieves who constantly break the law. Most news stories about hackers involve nation-states fighting against each other, online data breaches, and the activities of underground hacking networks. For example, one of the most high-profile hacks in the last decade was the hack on Sony Pictures, which resulted in the leak of emails, personal details, and upcoming movies.
Source : howtogeek