The White Hat HackersThe first reason people should be thankful for hackers is that not all hackers are fixated on breaking into your computer and stealing your data. In fact, hackers see themselves as a group with several subgroups. The black hat hackers are the ones who break into systems for material gain. Gray hat hackers, on the other hand, are in it for personal recognition mostly, but they still break important rules. It's the white hat hackers that really do good work, however, by hacking into sites in order to help those sites test and improve their security so that the other types of hackers can’t gain access so easily. All three groups use the same methods, but their motives are very different.
Hackers Helped Make Your PCGoing back to the early days of the personal computer, many of the members of the Homebrew Computer Club in Silicon Valley would have been considered hackers in modern terms in that they pulled things apart and put them back together in new and interesting ways. Although there were no secure sites for these early computer hobbyists to hack, many in the group were also phone phreakers, who cracked the telephone network by using whistles and blue boxes to make free calls whenever they pleased.
This desire to explore systems and find out how they worked made many of these proto-hackers more knowledgeable about the different technologies available - and their shortcomings - than even those who created those technologies. Two former phreakers, Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak, built Apple; others, like the legendary Captain Crunch, went on to design software and play a role in the development of Silicon Valley culture. (Learn more about the history behind Apple in Creating the iWorld: A History of Apple.)