Today I read about ethical hacking and cracking. I read that ethical hacking is legal but cracking is illegal. The confusion came in my mind when I think that both are same.

So how can we identify it's illegal hacking or not? Because an ethical hacker can also break the privacy as cracker does. A cracker can do legal hacking. We can say an ethical hacker to attack our privacy to tell us how our privacy is breakable. But cracker tries to break our privacy without our permission and he can improve our privacy as an ethical hacker can.

How people can say that ethical hacking is good and cracking is not good or illegal? Both are same. Both type of hackers can break and improve our privacy, they bother can tell us about the security threats and they both can break our privacy. Here is the link from where I studied about it (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kFp9GjL3fok)

  • The question is mainly between intentionally doing harm or not. There is of course a grey area for example when cracking copy protection - for some (producers) this is primarily causing harm while others will like to get things for free/cheap. Sure both ways can ultimately result in improvements to security. But I rather have a bank fix their security as a result of some pentesting than as a result of someone stealing money due to an insecure online banking. – Steffen Ullrich Dec 1 '18 at 16:01

The way I see it:

Hacker: the most generic term for people who "hack", that is, try to do things that go beyond what is apparently possible, usually by studying, researching, testing, and also having fun. It can have negative or positive connotations, applying to people ranging from good programmers to true criminals.

Ethical hacker: a hacker that does not break the law, and usually works to improve the security of software or hardware in general, helping people and companies to defend from cyber criminals. They might also do this as part of their jobs, for example as penetration testers or security researchers. When an ethical hacker finds a new vulnerability, they take action so that it will end up being fixed as soon as possible.

Cyber criminal: a hacker that beaks the law, usually exploiting vulnerabilities to earn money in some illicit way. Cyber criminals are the "attackers". There are the ones distributing malware, sending spam, stealing data, putting websites offline with DoS attacks, etc.

Black hat (hacker): same as cyber criminal.

White hat (hacker): same as ethical hacker.

Grey hat (hacker): someone who isn't a real criminal, but might behave in unethical ways in some cases for personal purposes. There isn't really a precise definition.

Cracker: a term that I have seen used in some communities to refer to generic cyber criminals, but I don't think I have ever seen it used this way in serious english-speaking communities. I would personally think of a cracker as someone who "cracks" software, that is, removes restrictions or protections so that a program can be used more freely. For example a cracker might remove copy protections, or generate unofficial activation codes, or unlock features that are generally unavailable to the users.

  • Cracking software is also done by people who jailbreak devices, not just for piracy. – forest Dec 2 '18 at 6:51
  • @forest, right, I modified the definition a bit to include other possibilities. – reed Dec 3 '18 at 14:07

How people can say that Ethical hacking is good and Cracking is not good or illegal.

You have it backwards. People say that legal hacking is called "ethical hacking", and people say that illegal hacking is called "cracking", in an attempt to distinguish between two different uses of the same tools and techniques.

Permission is the difference.

In the beginning there was Hacking. Hacking did not always imply illegality; it reflected an interest in exploring, especially in exploring not-intended uses and methods. Many of these are legal; some are illegal. The same action may be legal in one context, and illegal in another - driving 65 MPH is likely legal on a highway, and likely illegal in a mall parking lot.

As the illegal uses of "hacking" became more common, people tried to disambiguate the word. "Ethical Hacking" attempts to describe people who use the same tools and techniques as illegal hackers, but with both permission and good intent. (Good intent isn't enough; just ask Randall Schwartz).

Likewise, people tried to use "cracking" and "crackers" to define the illegal forms of hacking. This word has never really caught on very well.

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