Hacking, is a term widely used in a terroristic sense. But is this a misconception of the real meaning? The definition of hacking in this sense is: To use a computer to gain unauthorized access to data in a system. This can be considered hacking, yes. But the reality of the matter is that hacking is not always a negative thing. Quite frankly it in an insult to any hacker. First thing's first. There are three major categories in hacking: White Hat, Black Hat, and Grey Hat. These categories are really based on the motive of a hacker. If you have malicious intentions and deliberately break past security to steal data then you are considered a Black Hat. If you are breaking into an authorized network to secure any possible weaknesses then you are a White Hat. And if you do illegal things for knowledge or just to prove that you can without receiving any confidential or otherwise protected data you are a Grey Hat. In my opinion these are pretty limited categorizations considering the limitless possibilities of hacking.
The reality of it all is that hacking is split into two realistic categories: Legal and Illegal. If you are reverse engineering a piece of hardware to make it better or serve another purpose for research or for open source use; you are a hacker. You fall under the legal side of things if you follow copyright guidelines. On the other-hand if you modify an RF reader to pull data from credit cards and then put that into action by harvesting information to sell or trade; you have just stepped onto the illegal side of the fence. Both are hackers, the intent is what separates them. The broad category "hacker" or "hacking" is not used as versatile as I wish it was. Did you know even claiming publicly that you are a hacker can result in your loss of your 4th amendment right? (For Americans) That's pretty scary to even think of. Not only that, but if you are "suspected" of committing any illegal activity against a major corporation you are facing major felonies. Even doing something as trivial as a civil online protest by refreshing your browser many times on a site along with many others to create a DDoS attack you are committing a felony. This in my eyes is no different then protesting in front of that same establishment. Moreover, if you are deemed to be posing a threat to the united states, without evidence, you can be detained indefinitely without reason or trial. I wish this were joke but its reality.
To sum all this up, I would like to say that hacking is not illegal and can be a very respectable thing in the sense of up and coming technologies and cyber defense. As I said before, it is the intent of the person that is doing the hacking that decides the fate of the term. My point here is that if you have a passion for technology and have enough wit about you to modify, improve, or use technology to gather information that is not readily available; or if you are hacking to improve the security of a private or corporate network. Why should you cringe at being categorized as a hacker. Be proud of who you are and what you do because ether are many hackers, but in relationship to the general population; you are a minority. An elite few that can see past the GUI and tread past the norm. You are the ones that make much more possible than previously imagined.