What Is a 'Cracker' in the Computer and Mobile Device World?

'cracker' is similar to 'hacker' in online jargon
'cracker' is similar to 'hacker' in online jargon. Creative / Getty

Definition: A "Cracker" is a computer user who attempts to break into copyrighted software or a network computer system.

Commonly, cracking is done with the intent to release the software from programmatic padlocks so that it can be used without paying royalties.

In smartphones, cracking often refers to 'unlocking' your smartphone or 'jailbreaking your smartphone' so that it can freed from manufacturer locks or carrier locks. This is so the user can perform advanced functions on the smartphone, or use the smartphone on a different cellphone carrier network.

Other times, cracking is to expose a system's security flaws. For the most part, crackers do their craft with the intent to steal confidential data, acquire free software, or perform malicious destruction of files.

Related term: "Software hacker" or 'haxor'. A cracker and a hacker can be considered synonymous, as they both involve breaking into locked systems. The term hacker, though, is more common and usually encompasses more activity than just breaking and entry; hackers are tinkerers who manipulate and systems once they have gained access.

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