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10 Famous Hackers and Hacks

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by: Jacob Silverman
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The term hacker commonly refers to anyone who unlawfully breaks into computer networks, and it often carries a negative connotation.
©iStockphoto.com/Roberto Saporito

While widely used, the term hacker is not always applied as it should be. In the hacking community in particular, there can be stark divisions between hackers -- people immensely skilled at navigating computer systems and diagnosing security flaws -- and crackers -- those who use their hacking knowledge for malicious gain. This same dichotomy is sometimes represented by the terms white hat and black hat. A white hat hacker, for example, may be someone hired by a company to break into its computer network in order to find vulnerabilities. A black hat hacker is someone on the outside who would break into a system in order to cause damage or for financial gain.

Although these various definitions exist, the term hacker is now largely a stand-in for anyone who breaks into computer networks, and it often carries a negative connotation. Some have broken the law in their careers, but many have also gone on to have productive (and legal) roles in the computer industry. Those that have broken the law have complex legal cases, and their motives are not necessarily malicious. In this article, we'll look at 10 famous hackers of all stripes.

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