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Hacking is the act of breaking into a computer or network to steal information. It can also be done to cause trouble.

Generally, hackers are not criminals. They are merely skilled individuals who like to break through security limitations.

A hacker’s skill set includes a lot of computer knowledge, including programming, networking, and Internet technologies. In addition, they need to understand security concepts and protocols, such as the public key infrastructure (PKI), secure sockets layer (SSL), firewalls, intrusion detection systems (IDS), and others.

The main resource a hacker uses to crack into a computer system is computer code. This code gives hackers a tremendous amount of power over innocent users and organizations — once a skilled hacker knows how a system works, he can design programs that exploit it.

Common types of hacking include stealing data, defacing websites and disrupting service. Other common attacks include compromising security by creating a virus, or using social engineering to trick users into giving out their passwords.

Vengeful hackers, or blue hat hackers, use their skills to post personal and confidential information online to ruin reputations. These individuals often also attempt to hack into email accounts and social media profiles for their own gain.

Script kiddies are amateur hackers who use pre-written scripts in their attempts to penetrate networks. These are the youngest and least experienced hackers who usually don’t cause too much damage.

The rise in availability of computers over the past few decades spawned a new generation of hackers. These hackers are primarily motivated by personal gain and often exploit software to steal personal and financial information. Some have even gone on to become convicted cybercriminals.