Are 'computer hackers' technological innovators who push the boundaries of development or reckless criminals who endanger companies and individuals?

Essay by DavidNscoUniversity, Bachelor'sB+, April 2006

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In my essay I am going to speak about hackers and their negative and positive roles in the society.

Hacking is a relatively old issue, dated to 1961 [1, history of]. There are many ways to define hackers but in my opinion their position as reckless criminals who endanger companies and individuals, outpaces their positive effects.

Nowadays there is a lot of evidence on the harm and the loss that they cause to big companies and as well to individuals. USA and UK are countries that have had the most hacking activity, which rapidly increases over time [2 survey]. However hackers are like a double-edged sword. Besides their disadvantages there are the positive impacts they have on the technological world. Hackers are considered as technological innovators. This is based on the fact that the main aim of the early hackers was to develop and perfectionate systems and software, but this issue has changed a lot since then [3 innovators].

But we cannot call them technological innovators since there is a huge contrast between the negative impacts and the innovation that hackers bring.

"The word "hacker" itself means a person who enjoys exploring the details of computers by knowing how to stretch their capabilities, a malicious or inquisitive meddler who tries to discover information by poking around" [4 Web Definitions]. Hackers are often seen as "White hats" or "Black hats." White hat hackers help fix badly written software programs and write new programs for the greater good of the computing community. Black hats modify or create software for criminal purposes such as stealing your passwords, your identity, and your bank account or simply to slow the Internet down to no one's amusement but themselves [4 Web Definitions]. These are the people that made companies such as "Emulex" in US...