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Hacking is the act of breaking into a computer system, network, or other device for purposes such as identity theft, fraud, or to access data. It can be both malicious and ethical, and hackers often use their skills as a form of social activism.

In addition to traditional computers, a growing number of devices are now connected to the Internet, including smart home devices and appliances that can be hacked to gain unauthorized access. As a result, hacking is a threat to a wide range of organizations and their customers.

Ethical hackers seek to exploit weaknesses in cybersecurity defenses to breach security. They also test for vulnerabilities and identify where cybersecurity measures are lacking.

These professionals may work for government agencies or companies that rely on the Internet to communicate with customers, employees and partners. Their findings can help organizations strengthen their cybersecurity defenses.

Black hat hackers, on the other hand, use their skills to discover and exploit weaknesses in software and systems for criminal and illegal purposes. They can steal confidential information, compromise computer and financial systems, or alter or take down websites and critical networks.

White hat hackers, or ethical hackers, use their technical skills to help improve cybersecurity protections. They also may be employed as penetration testers (pen testers) or for other cybersecurity-related jobs.

While hacking has traditionally been a divisive issue, it is becoming more widespread in today’s world. The Internet has given hackers access to a global network of individuals and organizations with whom they can collaborate on attacks and tradecraft. It is now a multibillion-dollar illicit market, and attempts to hack people and organizations have become more sophisticated.