According to Hollywood, a hacker can be a wiz kid who spends too much time with computers and suddenly finds himself submerged in the world of cyber-security or criminal conspirators. On the other hand, he can be a master criminal who wants to obtain huge amounts of money for him, or even worse, dominate the world.
In the movie Matrix, the concept of hackers changed a bit. Although the agents of the Matrix considered them terrorists, the truth is that they were rebels fighting for the liberty of humanity. Things do not need to reach that extreme, though. We are not at war with intelligent ma chines so that kind of scenario is a bit dramatic.
Therefore, a hacker is an individual who is capable of modifying computer hardware, or software. They made their appearance before the advent of computers, when determined individuals were fascinated with the possibility of modifying machines. For example, entering a determine code in a telephone in order to make free international calls.
When computers appeared, this people found a new realm where they could exploit their skills. Now they were not limited to the constraints of the physical world, instead, they could travel through the virtual world of computers. Before the internet, they used Bulletin Board Systems (BBS) to communicate and exchange information. However, the real explosion occurred when the Internet appeared.
Today, anyone can become a hacker. Within that denomination, there are three types of hackers. The first one is the black hacker, also known as a cracker, someone who uses his computer knowledge in criminal activ ities in order to obtain personal benefits. A typical example is a person who exploits the weaknesses of the systems of a financial institution for making some money.
On the other side is the white hat hacker. Although white hat hacking can be considered similar to a black hacker, there is an important difference. A white hacker does it with no criminal intention in mind. Companies around the world, who want to test their systems, contract white hackers. They will test how secure are their systems, and point any faults that they may found. If you want to become a hacker with a white hat, linux, a PC and an internet connection is all you need.