Are Hackers Heroes?

The word ‘hacker’ is used so much on the internet and when discussing technology in general, that it’s lost some of its meaning. News coverage in particular, labels anyone who’s touched an electronic device as a hacker. What does it really mean?

Many people think of hackers as cyber criminals, breaking into computer systems with ill-intent. Though there are plenty of destructive hackers in the world, there have always been people who hack with a different purpose. Some define hacking as “finding creative solutions to technical problems.” To them, hacking means having an exploratory mindset about technology, and a willingness to “get under the hood” to tinker and see what happens. Other groups, like Anonymous, employ more subversive hacking practices to forward social and political causes, embedding a social consciousness into the traditionally murky dark-side of security hacking. Looking beyond the media hype and scare tactics, it is clear that “hacking” is a term whose meaning should be up for debate, and that some hackers could in fact be heroes, and not just villains. [PBS]