Cambridge Dictionary urged to change definition of hacker

Cyber security firm HackerOne says the current definition is unfair.

Press Association
Last updated: 25 June 2018 - 5.30pm

Cambridge Dictionary is being urged to change its definition of the word hacker so the “illegally” is removed.

The current definition of the word sees it describe a hacker as “a person who is skilled in the use of computer systems, often one who illegally obtains access to private computer systems”.

But cyber security company HackerOne has called for the wording to be changed to reflect the difference between hackers and cyber criminals.

It argues that many hackers do positive work to improve cyber security practices and systems around the world.

The firm’s Laurie Mercer said: “One of the biggest misconceptions about digital crime is the view that hackers and cyber criminals are the same.

“Hackers are skilled individuals who are curious and enjoy challenges, while cyber criminals use the internet as a platform to commit crime.

“Hackers also play an important role in keeping the internet safe by leveraging their creativity and intelligence to find complex security flaws often missed by traditional methods.

“It is encouraging to see the perception of the broader security community shifting towards positivity.”

HackerOne also polled attendees at Infosecurity – the major conference for the cyber security community – and found 70% backed its calls to change the definition.

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