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Hacking is the process of exploiting a system or network by gaining unauthorized access to confidential information. Hackers can be professionals who perform penetration testing and identify security flaws as part of their work, or they can be criminals seeking revenge or financial gain. Hacking has been around for longer than most people realize. Guglielmo Marconi’s attempt to prank call the Pope in 1903 using a whistled tone was a form of hacking (although the term “hacker” didn’t yet exist). The founders of Apple, Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak, are considered early hackers. They obsessively explored low-tech methods for getting around secure telecommunication networks and expensive long-distance calls. They called themselves phreaks, a combination of phone and freaks.

Ethical hackers, also known as white hat hackers, hack into systems to identify security flaws and advise organizations of ways to strengthen their cybersecurity defenses. These hacks are often done with the consent of the organization they are targeting and can be a valuable service. Black hat hackers, on the other hand, are often criminals seeking monetary gain or to obtain sensitive personal information for illegal activities such as identity theft and ransomware. They are often found in countries with weak cyber and law enforcement.

Some hackers are motivated by anger and a desire to exact revenge on an individual or company they believe wronged them. They may be referred to as blue hat hackers and are usually found on social media or online. Script kiddies are amateur hackers who use pre-written scripts in their hacking attempts and generally cause little damage or inconvenience.