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Hacking is a cyber-attack that exploits vulnerabilities in software or hardware systems. A hacker can infect your computer or device with malware that steals passwords and other confidential information. Hackers can also use your personal information to make unauthorized purchases or sell confidential data to third parties.

There are many different types of hackers, from ethical hackers who find system vulnerabilities (called white hat hackers) to criminals who gain unauthorized access to systems and sell the information they steal on the dark web. All hackers must master a variety of skills to successfully breach security defenses.

The word hacker spawned from the 1960s at MIT, where members of the Tech Model Railroad Club would tinker with their high-tech train sets to improve and expand them. They later moved on to IBM 704s, modifying the computers and expanding their capabilities. This tinkering is what shaped the hacker culture that developed into the hacker subculture of today.

Although the term hacker has negative connotations, there are many hacker groups that use their skills for good. For example, there are ethical hackers who find and report cybersecurity vulnerabilities to their employers. There are also hacktivists who hack for a cause, such as exposing corrupt corporations or government agencies. And, there are even people who hack solely for entertainment.

To become a hacker, it helps to have an insatiable curiosity for technology and a deep desire to explore its limits. It’s also important to have a wide range of technical knowledge, including networking, Linux and Windows.