Hackers are an interesting subculture and, as such, they get a fair bit of attention from the media. The idea of a teenager breaking into high security databases is fascinating and more than a little terrifying. However, hackers aren’t all teenagers, nor are they all focused on breaking into places they shouldn’t be. In this article, we’ll look at some reasons why the general public can actually be thankful for hackers.
The White Hat Hackers
The first reason people should be thankful for hackers is that not all hackers are fixated on breaking into your computer and stealing your data. In fact, hackers see themselves as a group with several subgroups. The black hat hackers are the ones who break into systems for material gain. Gray hat hackers, on the other hand, are in it for personal recognition mostly, but they still break important rules. It’s the white hat hackers that really do good work, however, by hacking into sites in order to help those sites test and improve their security so that the other types of hackers can’t gain access so easily. All three groups use the same methods, but their motives are very different.
Hackers Helped Make Your PC
Going back to the early days of the personal computer, many of the members of the Homebrew Computer Club in Silicon Valley would have been considered hackers in modern terms in that they pulled things apart and put them back together in new and interesting ways. Although there were no secure sites for these early computer hobbyists to hack, many in the group were also phone phreakers, who cracked the telephone network by using whistles and blue boxes to make free calls whenever they pleased.
Hackers Have Done Some Amazing Things
Hacking is something that hackers don’t grow out of as much as they find avenues to turn it into an actual career. In addition to becoming security specialists, hackers go on to be star programmers and even found their own companies. Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, for example, is a self-professed hacker, but he is far from the only hacker whose programming skills helped launch major ventures. Linus Torvalds, the creator of Linux was a hacker too, as was Tim Berners-Lee, the man behind the World Wide Web. The list is long for the same reason the list of hackers turned coders is long – they all saw better ways of doing things.
Hackers Are Some Of The Best Coders
Just as many of the early computer enthusiasts turned out to be great at designing new computers and programs, many people who identify themselves as hackers are also amazing programmers. This trend of the hacker as the innovator has continued with the open-source software movement. Much of this open-source code is produced, tested and improved by hackers – usually during collaborative computer programming events, which are affectionately referred to as “hackathons.” Even if you never touch a piece of open-source software, you still benefit from the elegant solutions that hackers come up with that inspire (or are outright copied by) proprietary software companies.
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