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In common usage, a hacker is a person who breaks into computers. The subculture that has evolved around hackers is often referred to as the computer underground. Proponents claim to be motivated by artistic and political ends, but are often unconcerned about the use of criminal means to achieve them. Not all hackers are bad, and some act for good. It depends on their intentions.
A common label for hackers are Black Hat Hackers, Grey Hats, and White Hats. Black Hats mainly hack for financial or personal gain. They may spread viruses or malware, or steal, modify or destroy data. Grey Hats can look for vulnerabilities in a system or a website and they will notify the creator for a price. White Hats are generally workers or paid employees working for companies that look for coding mistakes and security holes.
A well known hacker group is called "Anonymous".
While other uses of the word hacker exist that are not related to computer security (computer programmer and home computer hobbyists), they are rarely used in mainstream context.