What Is the Difference between Hacking and Cracking?

hackers hacking and cracking

Hackers are specialized in building, and crackers in breaking. That is the fundamental difference between hacking as well as cracking concerning computer security. However, the further question that is pertinent to ask is, what’s being built and what’s being broken into smaller parts or components?

A lot of factors and various actors are involved in both. While some players act with malice, others don’t; some are equipped with the skills for putting your system down, and others are just looking for a loophole to make use of. Let’s explore the ways hacking is different from cracking.


A kind of illegal activity that poses a threat to privacy and security and intrudes into a network or computer without any authorization is known as hacking. Such an attempt presents a challenge to the utility of the mechanisms employed in securing a communication network. It‘s essential you bear in mind that though hacking and cracking are used interchangeably, the 2 of them are not the same since both are carried out with different objectives.

Hacking can equally be used to describe non-malicious activities that usually have to do with improvised or unusual changes to processes or equipment.


Generally speaking, hackers are computer geniuses as it’s their extraordinary computer knowledge and skills that help them break into other computer systems, conveniently. In this sense, they’re also referred to as crackers.

An individual that gets themselves involved in hacking activities is called a hacker. And a number of organizations hire hackers as members of their support staff. What such hackers do is to exploit their skills for finding flaws in the security system of such companies, helping them prevent identity theft as well as other cyber-and computer-related crimes.

A slew of innovative aspects and functionalities of computers are the brain-child of hackers. For obvious reasons, hackers are often very circumspect about how they go about carrying out their illegal activities.

There are different types of hackers, the most common ones being white hats, black hats as well as grey hats.

  • White hats hack with the aim of checking their own security systems in a bid to ensure that it is more hack-proof. In the majority of cases, they belong to the same organization.
  • Black hat hackers are those that hack for gaining control over someone else’s system for personal gains. Their central objectives here are, destroying, stealing, and preventing authorized users from having access to this system. They do these by looking for loopholes and weaknesses in such a system.
  • As for grey hat hackers, they consist of curious individuals with roughly the required computer language skills for hacking a system with the aim of finding possible weaknesses and loopholes in the network security system. These hackers then let the network system admin know of the loopholes and/or weaknesses they saw in the system.

Generally, hackers engage in the hacking of website pages that are password- protected; some hack into someone else’s PCs or desktops when they’re online, and others hack company servers.


While hacking involves intruding into computer systems without any authorization with the aim of gaining access into them, for either good purposes or bad ones, cracking is the process of doing the same thing, but with criminal intent. Cracking, however, is less harmful in comparison to hacking, generally.

As opposed to the widespread myth, it doesn’t usually entail certain mysterious leap of hacker-like brilliance. Instead, it is as a result of persistence as well as the dogged repetition of few fairly common tricks for exploiting well-known weaknesses and loopholes in the security of target networks or systems. Hence, the majority of crackers are mediocre at hacking.


A cracker is an individual that is engaged in breaking into someone else’s computer system, usually on a network, where they bypass licenses or passwords in pieces of computer software or in other ways that can breach computer security, intentionally. The motivation of a cracker could be to make a profit, for malicious purpose, or simply because the challenge is there.

Also, a cracker can serve as a Black Hat when they gain access to people’s accounts in a malicious manner and misuse any information they obtain across networks. Such crackers can steal credit card data, destroy crucial files, disclose personal details or sensitive information, and sell such data for personal gains.

The different types of crackers that exist include packet monkeys, script kiddies, s’kiddiots, warez d00dz, lamers as well as wannabes. Here is a handful of traits you can use to identify them:

  • Crackers are less skilled and don’t have the necessary detailed knowledge of programming as well as codes.
  • They are always reliant on the software tools that are developed by others for conducting their operations.
  • Crackers only possess the knowledge of the techniques for cracking security networks; they don’t have any advanced knowledge.

What’s the Difference between Hacking and Cracking?

The fundamental difference between both is that while a hacker makes use of their in-depth knowledge of computer logic and code, a cracker seeks back doors in programs and uses these back doors for their (cracker’s) maximum benefit. Hacking involves breaking into the security systems for the main objective of finding holes in the system and trying to rectify them, whereas cracking has to do with breaking into the security system for illegal and criminal purposes or for selfish reasons.     

Also, one has more malicious intent than the other. Crackers tend to possess in-depth knowledge of code that is related to Python, Objective C (Mac), and .NET (Visual Basic, C++, C, C#), whereas hackers have extensive knowledge of various types of web code, such as MySQL, PHP, HTML, CSS, JavaScript, and Ajax.

Wrapping up

Hacking involves making use of knowledge to only help strengthen the security of networks and systems while cracking will exploit knowledge for breaking the law. Though the 2 terms are interchangeably used, having outlined the differences between them above, you know better that they are not the same.


Posted by Deji

Deji is a freelance writer and Physics graduate from the University of Ibadan. Passionate and meticulous, he is a keen follower of developments around the world on a number of issues ranging from science, tech, history, politics, among others. Deji loves playing football and meeting people. Please, follow on Twitter and Facebook

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