What it means to be a hacker

What it doesn't mean to be a hacker
Being a hacker doesn't mean being a criminal. Hackers don't sit down at their computers every day and think "what crimes can I commit today?" Hackers don't seek to cause trouble or crash systems or steal money or property from people. Real hackers don't go around defacing websites and stealing passwords or credit card numbers; real hackers don't go around boasting about how "1337" they are and how much cracked software they have.

What it means to be a hacker
A hacker is an explorer, an experimenter, a pioneer, a researcher and an avid supporter of the ideals of freedom and social responsibility. Hackers only break things to find out how they work and how to put them back togeather. When a hacker sits down in front of their computer they think "What can I discover today? What can I do to make my computer do something new? How can I make things better?"
Hackers may occasionally crash or break a system, usually when they are starting out and are still developing basic skills and knowledge. If a hacker does cause problems for people it is almost always a result of the hacker discovering a flaw in a program or system and prompting the people responsible to make changes or improvements to it.