Are you a Hacker or a Cracker?

Geeks! We’re everywhere! Thanks to the digital revolution, you can’t enjoy a coffee without seeing a Hacker, Cracker, Gamer, Digital Nomad or Hipster beavering away on their laptop. And since We Geeks have inherited the earth, we can be found on the four corners of the globe… not that a globe has corners, of course.

Just like the jocks, bookworms and emos at high school, there are many different cliques within our A Tribe Called Geek, and while this is by no means an exhaustive or complete list and you may finish it thinking “I’m nothing like those people”, it’s likely you’re a mix of all of them!

Hackers Big Bang Theory

It was a toss up betwixt Big Bang Theory and The Office, but this is more colorful.

So sit back as Mr Robot Hacks guides you through a quick, light-hearted two-part tour to discover the differences and similarities between our digital-age tribe of brothers and sisters! And remember, it’s just for fun!

As we know from Mr Robot, the most oft-used definition of a hacker is someone like Elliot, but not to us geeks, so before we go any further, let’s clear up what a hacker is, and what it is not:

On Search Security Tech Target, Eric Raymond, compiler of The New Hackers Dictionary defines a “good hack” as a clever solution to a programming problem and “hacking” is the act of doing it, and since that’s an everyday occurrence in our world, that basically means anyone who is proficient in coding. And let’s be honest… most of these people can be found in offices (or hiding in server rooms)

A Tribe Called Geek - Hacker

I’m guilty of it myself, too because it’s an easy short-cut word that non-techies understand too. So, when the media talks of hackers, they’re referring to what again Eric Raymond refers to as Crackers like Hamza Bendellad; someone “who breaks into someone else’s computer system, often on a network; bypasses passwords or licenses in computer programs; or in other ways intentionally breaches computer security.”

There are many forms of hackers but most come in the form of expert computer programmers who create complex software and hardware. They live to work, commute, are often introverts and chose a life of computing because, unlike humans, code doesn’t talk back and does what you tell it to do… Until The Singularity comes along!

Elliot was this type of hacker at All Safe before Mr Robot raised his ugly head.

Hacker 1

This is what you look like. Okay, I’m projecting – this is what I look like.


AKA: Coder, Programmer, “Hey, you!”
Lives: Big cities; New York, London, Sydney, Mumbai… or Silicon Valley
Works: Any I.T. Department
Votes: Democrat
Looks: Tall and skinny or short and overweight, shirt, slacks, jumper in winter but never a tie
Uses: Work-provided Linux workstation, ergonomic chair, mouse wrist rest, comfy everything – bastards!
Carries: Sneakers for the gym, screen wipes, key card pass, pens
Listens: Coldplay, U2
Watches: Mr Robot, Big Bang Theory, Halt and Catch Fire
Drinks: Latte with an extra shot to get thru the office morning
Tribal Relations: fantasises about sexual relations with Thora from H.R. but won’t get it
Wants: Just to fit in

Hacker jacket

The second in our tribe are Crackers.  there is a light side and a dark side to The Force, the Hackers are the Jedi to the Cracker’s Sith!

Just as there is a light side and a dark side to The Force, Hackers are the Jedi to the Cracker’s Sith!

That said, crackers can of course still be a force for good, they are just far more likely to go operate the grid (than hackers)

A good example would be 24’s Chloe O’Brien who turned to The Dark Side in Season 9 (or did she??) while Agent’s of SHIELD’s Skye, AKA Daisy, AKA Quake route was more Cracker, Hacker, Cracker!

I wonder if anyone’s written about the responsibility wielded by computer ninjas like Elliot and the questions it raises?

“With great power comes great responsibility” – Spiderman’s Uncle Ben Parker

It’s a toughie – do you use your planet-sized brain for the greater good and remain an upright, tax-paying member of society or do you go rogue and use your skills underground?

Hacker - Protester-mask

This guy didn’t understand the “anonymous mask” nor “plain back hoodie” part and was arrested minutes later.

Perhaps Mr Robot is really a cautionary tale about being torn between two ideologies, with Elliot as the Jedi, Mr Robot as the Sith?

Either way; able to up-and-skedaddle in a micro-second, both Dark Crackers and Crackers Lite shun the shiny white and silver world of Mac, so you can spot them by their black tech, black clothes, black eye circles (and red lightsabers) as they and a small, tight-knit band of like-minded introverts plot and plan to stick it to the man!

Elliot was a cracker long before Mr Robot came along, learning to code from a young age but I can’t shake the feeling that a simple life at somewhere like All Safe would have awaited him if it weren’t for his father.


AKA: Hacker
Motto: “Fuck Democracy”
Works: Cracker Barrel
Votes: Fuck the right to vote
Looks: Circles under eyes looking over their shoulder, plain black hoodie or baseball cap to hide behind
Uses: Alienware AW17R3-8342SLV 17.3-Inch UHD Laptop, Pwnie Express Pwn Pad 4
Carries: Backpack of gadgets
Listens: Industrial, Goth, like The Cure
Watches: Startup, 9/11 Conspiracy Documentaries on The You Tube
Drinks: Americano (with Adderall)
Tribal Relations: Emos
Wants: To burn it all down

Hacker 2

Of course, not all crackers wear black hoodies, sometimes they’re gray.

We’ll be back soon with a few more members of A TRIBE CALLED GEEK here.

Please don’t forget to share with your hacker and cracker friends!

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