In the 60s, computer subcultures appeared in American university environments where the inaugurated were called hackers. The true hackers had, and still have, high ethical values:

This ethic is heavily influenced by prevailing academic views on information, and the net was conceived in the intersection between these cultures.

Later, the term 'hacking' has been abused to label illegal and malicious intrusions into computer and phone systems. A better word for this is 'cracking'.