Initially, Hacking was used to describe an activity done as a hobby, usually in a sophisticated manner. It basically had no relations with doing anything with computers (Harvey, n.d.), and only after the discovery of computers, the term “Computer Hacking” came into use. In actual sense, computer hacking meant doing anything using the computer as a pastime, which included making computers do almost anything that they are normally not made for.
However, at present, people generally refer to computer hacking as a criminal offence that consists of activities like breaking into computer systems, stealing people’s or organizations’ data, and doing some sort of damage, using computers or computer-like devices. Quite easily, the list can go on. Historically, many illegal activities done using computers have been recorded as the acts of hacking. Hacking has mostly been perceived as doing illicit things with computers though the hackers (and their communities) have disagreed with all of it and labeled such people with unethical intents as “crackers” and/or “phreaks” (BBC News, 2000).
Hacking can acceptable in many cases, for instance, if a group of hackers are trying test security loopholes in order to avoid cyber attacks to important websites then it is a “good” activity on all grounds. In fact, such a community exists and they are known as “White Hat Hackers” (Techopedia, n.d.), and they work to counter the problems created by “Black Hat Hackers”. Similarly, if some hackers are helping the email companies to identify “spam” mails then it is also a morally acceptable act.
Looking at various examples and opinions of hacker communities, it can be clearly seen that hacking is not always unethical. The reason for claiming this is that their intent might not be malicious all the time. There are many hackers that breach laws for their personal benefit or satisfaction, but there are others too, who work to save people from such wrongdoers. Hence, hacking is not always bad.
Harvey, B. (n.d.), What is a Hacker?, Retrieved from http://www.cs.berkeley.edu/~bh/hacker.html
BBC News (October 27, 2000), Hacking: A history, Retrieved from http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/science/nature/994700.stm
Techopedia (n.d.), White Hat Hacker, Retrieved from http://www.techopedia.com/definition/10349/white-hat-hacker