A human being who aims to become a hacker will typically pass through these stages:
- Mundane person
He basically doesn't know anything about the hacking scene, even if he may have a computer and Internet access. The only things he knows about hackers is that they break computer systems and are criminals. Some of them write for the newspapers.
One who confuses the hacking scene with different realities such as the warez scene. He has a very poor knowdlege of the whole thing, and try to impress mundane people with big words. His greatest achievement is to put a trojan (wrote by someone else, and of which he is totally clueless about how it works) in someone else's computer during an IRC or ICQ chat and delete their files.
People that succeed in becoming hackers usually pass this stage very quickly, or might skip it at all.
A Wannabe hacker found out that hacking is much more than breaking into someone else's computer and it's rather a philosophy, or a way of life. He just wants to know more, and starts to read hacking tutorials, and searches the Net for serious hacking-related stuff.
Also referred as Newbie, a hacker in his larval stage learns the basic techniques of hacking, discovers his firsts exploits, and might try to break into someone else's system, just to make sure he figured how to do that. However, at this stage he knows he shouldn't damage the system nor delete anything, if it's not strictly necessary to cover his tracks.
It is hard to say when the final stage of hacker has been reached, since there's always something new to learn and to discover (for collecting information and exploring the boundaries is the same essence of a hacker), but it's probably more something you feel. After all, being a hacker is more a state of mind, and if you are not born hacker, you'll never be such.
This is an unusual character, probably inspired to Nietzsche's uebermann ("overman"). It appears on a document titled "A Guide to Internet Security" by Christopher Klaus, dated December 5th, 1993, where the author suggests how to fool hackers thanks to some "social engeneering", gaining thus the status of "Ueberhacker".
A hacker may achieve great experience and skills in a specific field or subject (such as an operating system or an application), and get the following titles:
One who has a very great knowledge about a certain subject.
He knows about everything about a certain subject, including undocumented features, and developed some tricks to go over its supposed limits. If the subject is an application, he probably knows more about it than its creators.
Other characters of the hacking scene:
- Dark-side hacker
This term derives from George Lucas' "Star Wars". A Dark-side hacker, just like Darth Vader, is "seduced by the dark side of the Force". It has nothing to do with the common idea of "good" and "bad", but it's closer to the idea of "legal" and "chaotic" in Dungeons&Dragons: a Dark-side hacker has the same skills of any hacker, but his "dark" mind makes him a dangerous element for the whole community.
- Malicious hacker
One who damages someone else's system for pure stupidity or evilness, with nothing to gain from his actions.