Not all programmers become hackers. A programmer is a person who develops computer programs using a predetermined set of programming commands using certain languages like Python, PowerShell, C/C#/C+/C++, Ruby, and more.

No, a programmer is not necessarily a hacker. While a lot of hackers have the programming skillset with an in-depth grasp of computer systems, programming doesn’t make them a hacker.

This article will attempt to explain the difference between a programmer and a hacker. Furthermore, the functions and purpose of these two separate identities will also be discussed. 

Is Hacking As A Sub-Category Of Programming?

In the field of technology, a programmer is somebody who produces an executable compilation of computer commands in the format of codes. However, hackers include programmers who recognize and capitalize on a computer system’s vulnerabilities.

John David McAfee, a British-American software engineer who created the first commercial anti-virus, McAfee antivirus, defines hackers as those who use a mix of high-tech cyber tools plus social engineering to obtain unauthorized access to an individual’s data.

The majority of hacker programmers hack out of curiosity, a curiosity systems, a need for cyber defense expertise, or malevolent intent. Many hackers are programmers, but not every programmer is a hacker, in fact there are many programmers who work for companies to create applications that have nothing to do with security.

Programmers, hackers, and developers are frequently the subject of intense discussion and argument. The majority of the definitions I’ve encountered include at least one significant error, thus I decided to create my own, hopefully, more correct definitions.

A programmer is a person who can solve issues by modifying computer code. They can possess a broad variety of skill levels, ranging from “okay” with basic programming to total mastery of any language.

A hacker is somebody who breaks stuff. In this usage, it refers to a person who creates objects using computer programming. This refers to the original and purest sense of the phrase, i.e., having an idea and “hacking” something to make it function. With this object or script, they will use it to automate repetitive tasks like brute forcing a web login page, SSH password, or attack an infrastructure.

That is the “breaking” that the hacker is performing. They typically know very well how to break and fix networks and devices, making them experts in their field.

What Is The Relationship Between Hacker And Programmer?

A Hacker can also be a creator/tinkerer, while a developer is a classically trained programmer that not only solves issues but does it in a systematic and disciplined manner that was likely studied academically.

A Developer is a programmer of sorts with formal training. Not only do they solve issues and create things, but they do it according to a system of design and execution standards. These include performance, maintainability, scalability, durability, and (hopefully) security. Their main task is to build applications, create websites (front & back ends), and create workflows between the developer environment and the production environment.

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A programmer is similar to the developer except their work is specific; they code. That is is their role. They are specifically skilled in writing code and debugging it. You may see some developers or hackers with programming skills perform their duties, but you won’t really see a sole programmer do those tasks because their role is so narrow.

Idealistically, one would aspire to be all three, — in other words, creative enough to be dubbed a hacker, but with sufficient formal knowledge and experience actually designing software and creating code as opposed to simply…well, hacking it together.

Nevertheless, you should be pleased to work as a programmer even if you lack creativity and/or the degree and/or experience necessary to design big apps.

There have been many discussions throughout the years on the similarities and distinctions between hackers and developers. Although most individuals end up conflating the two, you must recognize that there are significant distinctions between them.

What Are The Precise Distinctions Between Hacker And Programmer?

The primary distinction between a hacker as well as a programmer is the fact that the former searches for and exploits weaknesses in computer networks, systems, and applications in order to gain access to and obtain various data. 

However, the latter employs one or more programming languages to create, test, debug, or maintain computer programs. 

A hacker as well as a programmer have the ability to use code to solve issues as one of their similarities. Moreover, a hacker is usually some sort of coder with diverse cybersecurity skills.

In the remainder of this article, you will learn the distinctions between hackers as well as programmers. Additionally, you will learn everything else you should know about the two computer experts. So, without any further ado, let’s immediately get to work.

A computer programmer is, by definition, someone who writes, tests, debugs, or maintains computer software. A programmer can accomplish this by providing computer-specific programming instructions in various languages, including HyperText Markup Language (HTML), PHP, C, C++, Structured Query Language (SQL), Extensible Markup Language (XML), as well as Java.

We have witnessed significant technological advancements in the 21st century. This is made possible by the work of programmers, software engineers, computer programmers, and other people from across the globe.

Programmers are responsible for writing codes that help convert the designs of software developers and engineers into sets of commands that system software can recognize and carry out. These codes will allow the constructed application or software to operate properly.

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The only difference between them and programmers would be that they possess extra cybersecurity expertise. Hackers utilize programming and cybersecurity expertise to identify flaws, which they frequently exploit to get allowed or illegal access to company data. 

Programmers are largely responsible for writing, testing, debugging, and maintaining computer software for It organizations. The capacity of hackers to develop programs and search for weaknesses in any system can make them more skilled than programmers.

What Are The Functions of A Programmer?

The most essential qualification for becoming a programmer is knowledge of one or even more programming languages. However, because languages vary in usage and application, you should be able to acquire more sophisticated language skills as time passes.

Here are some of the skillsets you must acquire as a programmer in order to advance your career:

  • Oracle built Java as a high-level, object-oriented computer language with minimal implementation requirements. This indicates that the language is recognized for its “write once, run anywhere” feature.
  • Javascript (JS): It is a robust dynamic programming language. It is among the most versatile and powerful languages available.
  • Linux: This operating system is open-source. It is utilized by the majority of developers and programmers worldwide to power the majority of powerful computers, desktops, mobile devices, and IoT.
  • Other programming languages to learn such as: Ruby, HTML, C#, Swift, SQL, Visual Basic, ASP.NET, C++, PHP, and Rust to further their careers.
  • Network, device, operating system, container, and virtualization configuration/troubleshooting

As previously mentioned, hackers frequently search for weaknesses in computer systems and networks. As quickly as they identify a vulnerability, they devise a means to attack it and acquire data access.

Many individuals frequently confuse hackers with programmers. While there are some parallels between them, you must recognize that there are key distinctions.

There are often several sorts of hackers in existence. The classification depends on the manner in which they function and the objective of their actions.

What Are The Categories of Hackers?

First, there is the white hat or ethical hacker. This sort of hacker searches for and exploits flaws to obtain computer system access. However, the objective is to address any discovered shortcomings.

1. Black hat (cyber criminals)

These hackers will search computer networks for weaknesses. As quickly as they discover one, they develop ways to exploit it by getting illegal access to the data of others. The objective of hackers is corporate espionage, monetary gain, hacktivism, fraud, and more.

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2. Gray Hat (also criminals, but are curious rather than malicious)

Between those, the black and white hats lie the gray hat hacker. This implies that they hunt for system vulnerabilities and often don’t exploit them to get unauthorized access. The goal for gray hats isn’t malicious but the methods in which they “poke” around in unauthorized systems/applications are still illegal because they don’t have permission.

However, rather than taking data, they disclose the vulnerabilities to the owners sometimes so the owners can fix them. Keep in mind, gray hats skirt the line of legality and often cross into the forbidden waters in the name of curiosity or anti-censorship.

3. White Hat Hacker 

A hacker intends to breach the security and bypass the system while a programmer intends to write computer code for companies. These sorts of hackers are legitimately hacking into the system to determine the vulnerabilities of software, program, system, or the integrity of data. They are employed by the company and usually work for a third-party security consulting firm.

These hackers are 100% legal, follow strict moral code, scope of work, and sign disclosure and other legal documents prior to the penetration testing on the companie’s assets. 

The following are other types of hackers that fall in between gray & black hats:

  1. Hacktivists are hackers who target network or system vulnerabilities. As soon as they discover a weakness, they exploit it to get illegal access to data, which they utilize to propagate social, religious, or political messages. They have also been known to bring down networks owned by certain organizations to make a point.

2. Phreakers prioritize telephony over computer systems and networks. They seek out flaws in telephone systems via which they might get unwanted access.

3. Lastly, script kiddies can begin their hacking assaults utilizing preexisting software. They typically lack the necessary abilities but employ a variety of pre-existing tools to obtain unauthorized access to computers. These idiots usually get caught by the authorities pretty easily because of their lack cyber skills.


Hackers are usually programmers, but programmers are not always hackers. Walter O’Brien, the fictional protagonist of the American drama tv series Scorpion, noted that hacking requires a novel approach to previously unconsidered challenges.

Black hat and gray hat hacking are both unlawful and might result in legal consequences if you are detected. On the contrary, white hat hacking is legitimate for its purpose. It can be conclusively said that there exists a fine distinction between a hacker and a programmer of which the major one is purpose and job role.