You often hear the nomenclature of computer menaces refer to hackers, intruders, script kiddies, virus writers, bot herders, and phreakers. Just what sorts of people are these, anyway?
These days hacker is a broad-brush term implicating almost any person who has computer skills and mouse in hand as a wild-eyed cybervillain. Actually, the real hacker is a rare breed indeed: extremely knowledgeable, patient, creative, resourceful, and well aware that knowledge is power. He or she is determined to find a new way to explore and maybe exploit some particular system, protocol, or program. He or she studies the architecture and design of the target in order to better understand how they work, and perhaps find a weakness and exploit it. The reasons for doing so can be complex.
Hackers are often employees with day jobs who experiment after hours. Most hackers are socially responsible and want to discover weaknesses in computer hardware, software, and firmware and help get them fixed before icky, bad people discover them and cause real damage. Some are hired as consultants to ply their skills to test and improve system security.
Many years ago, being a hacker was a badge of honor, associated with intelligence and ingenuity. But in popular culture, the term now carries near- universal connotations of troublemaking and criminal activity.
Script kiddies are individuals with nowhere near the technical acumen of real hackers. Instead, they acquire programs ...