Crack

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What Does Crack Mean?

A crack is a methodology for breaking into a secured computer system. It was coined in the 1980s by hackers who wanted to disassociate themselves from the more malicious practices carried out by hackers. A cracker’s sole purpose is to break into a system, gaining fulfillment from being able to “crack” the system’s security shield. Real hackers go beyond just opening up a system. They go inside the system to gain knowledge and information for malicious intent, playful pranks and profiteering.

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The term crack is also commonly applied to the files used in software cracking programs, which enable illegal copying and the use of commercial software by breaking (or cracking) various registration and copy-protection techniques.

Techopedia Explains Crack

A software crack may also circumvent or serialize a piece of commercial software. Commercial software often uses keys to authenticate the user and software during instalation. Without the key, the software is unusable. The software crack is used to get past this security feature by generating a key. Or, it may change a file to trick the software into allowing the cracker to use it as if the correct serial key had already been entered. The latter is the most distributed methodology for cracking software licenses.

All of these descriptions of crack are similar. They reference breaking into a secured system. Whatever its form or method, crack means to get past a security system.

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Margaret Rouse
Technology Expert
Margaret Rouse
Technology Expert

Margaret is an award-winning technical writer and teacher known for her ability to explain complex technical subjects to a non-technical business audience. Over the past twenty years, her IT definitions have been published by Que in an encyclopedia of technology terms and cited in articles by the New York Times, Time Magazine, USA Today, ZDNet, PC Magazine, and Discovery Magazine. She joined Techopedia in 2011. Margaret's idea of a fun day is helping IT and business professionals learn to speak each other’s highly specialized languages.