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Hacking is the ability to gain unauthorized access into computer systems or networks. This unauthorized activity can be for profit, as part of a crime, or for fun. Hackers are usually skilled programmers that have a natural curiosity for the way computers work. They also possess a rebellious streak that drives them to question authority and push the boundaries of what is possible with technology.

Hackers are often portrayed in the media as villainous characters that use their skills for criminal activities. However, there are many hackers that use their skills for good. These are called white hat hackers and they help companies fix security flaws, strengthen their systems, and catch criminals. Some hackers even do this for a living.

The term hacker was originally used in the 1960s to describe a programmer who, in an era of limited computer capabilities, increased the efficiency of computer code by removing, or hacking, excess machine code instructions. It later became a popular word to describe people who used software or hardware tools to break into computer systems. As the availability of cheap, pre-assembled home computers allowed people to participate in this programmer subculture, the term hacker came to be associated with an overall rebellious and anti-authoritarian mindset.

Ethical hackers, also known as white hats, identify software and hardware vulnerabilities by breaking into computer systems legally and ethically. They report these findings to the organizations they are working for. For example, a retailer might conduct regular Ethical Hacking assessments to ensure that customer payment information is secure. This helps the retailer reassure customers that their data is safe, which can increase customer satisfaction and retention.