When you hear the word hacker, you might think of a tech-savvy, geeky-looking person who causes people's computers to get infected with viruses or cracks passwords to raid the accounts of big businesses. This is true in part, but there are many other ways hackers sway and manipulate the world around them.
For example, hackers often try to steal personal information for monetary gain. They look for information that can help them assume someone's identity and access a bank account or credit card. This has become a serious problem since online banking and mobile payments became popular. Hackers also target businesses that collect a lot of data, especially sensitive information such as financial details, customer names and addresses, internet activity and industry insider secrets.
Other hackers may be motivated by gaining street cred and burnishing their reputation in the hacker subculture. This is especially true of "hacktivists," who use their skills to promote a political cause by stealing and publishing information, defacing or defaming websites or otherwise inciting civil disobedience.
And then there are ethical hackers, also known as white hat hackers, who are hired by security firms to test their clients' networks for vulnerabilities that criminal hackers can exploit. They have a reputation for being more cautious and thorough than other cyber professionals, but the truth is that they are still subject to the same pressures and temptations as everyone else when it comes to swaying their colleagues and clients.