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Definition from the Jargon file:

cracking n. [very common] The act of breaking into a computer system; what a cracker does. Contrary to widespread myth, this does not usually involve some mysterious leap of hackerly brilliance, but rather persistence and the dogged repetition of a handful of fairly well-known tricks that exploit common weaknesses in the security of target systems. Accordingly, most crackers are only mediocre hackers.

See also hacking.

Versions of cracking include war dialing and war driving.

At least in the first half of the 1980s, the term "cracker" usually referred to a person who removed copy protection from computer software.