I’ll start this topic by stating that all hackers are programmers, but all programmers are not hackers. One of the distinctive characteristics of a hacker is ‘creativity’, that allows them to manipulate and modify software. Most competent hackers are better coders than your average programmer. If you’re a fan of watching shows like Mr. Robot’, then the image of a hacker in your mind must be truly exciting.
The modern representations of hackers are largely associated with people who can break into security systems, invade public privacy, commit digital theft, disassemble or shut down networks/databases etc. It’s true that many hackers are capable of doing those things, but they belong to the category called ‘Black Hat Hackers’. That been said, hacking is not an evil superpower and a major part of hackers are not criminals.
The ethical kind of hackers are called white hat hackers and their central purpose is to protect sensitive data and keep it from leaking out of a certain premises. Learning the difference between a hacker and a programmer is especially important if you’re in charge for hiring in an IT solutions agency. The need for a programmer or hacker depends on the nature of a project you’re going to work on. Programmers are generally problem solvers, whereas hackers make things.
Hackers possess the skill to gather sets of code that are already written and combine them to create a new program or application. They theoretically ‘hack’ things that already exist and make them better. Hackers can quickly identify the weak points or potential threats embedded in a system or network. Unlike an ordinary programmer, a hacker will easily figure out where the code is faulty or make a good guess about the nature of bugs present.
If a hacker can hijack a computer or database with more or less effort, it means that it is flawed. Hence, the knowledge of hackers is quite useful to test the soundness of a product. White hackers infiltrate security systems to get rid of gaps that can be exploited by black hat hackers. Therefore, both categories have similar talents, but one chooses it for the good over bad.
Without ethical hackers, it would be impossible to fight digital terrorism and overcome national security breaches. Precisely white hackers are the ones that only legally enter private systems with pure intentions of making amends. On contrast, black hat hackers violate systems without consent for malicious reasons and personal gains.
There’s also a third category of hackers called ‘Grey Hat Hackers’; this term is derived from the former two types, being a combination of both. Grey hat hackers may follow unlawful practices to crack technology, but mostly for right reasons.
At the end of the day effective hacking is impractical without having the know-how of programming. Hacking is extremely useful in situations where deadlines are close enough to kill you. Hackers are good at exploring shortcuts and developing instantaneous prototypes. Programmers tend to solve issues step by step which is usually the best way to go, but hacking techniques can be quite useful in case of an emergency.
There’s no shame in saying that programmers work hard while hackers work smart. As a programmer, extending your skills by learning to hack is a very good move. There are a number of ethical hacking courses available to help you develop these skills.