In computing, a hacker is any highly skilled computer expert. Depending on the field of computing it has slightly different meanings, and in some contexts has controversial moral and ethical connotations. In its original sense, the term refers to a person in any one of the communities and hacker subcultures:


Today, mainstream usage of "hacker" mostly refers to computer criminals, due to the mass media usage of the word since the 1980s. This includes what hacker slang calls "script kiddies," people breaking into computers using programs written by others, with very little knowledge about the way they work. This usage has become so predominant that the general public is unaware that different meanings exist.[5] While the self-designation of hobbyists as hackers is acknowledged by all three kinds of hackers, and the computer security hackers accept all uses of the word, people from the programmer subculture consider the computer intrusion related usage incorrect, and emphasize the difference between the two by calling security breakers "crackers" (analogous to a safecracker).