It seems that I can never stress this enough. The mass public needs to be educated on the difference between these 2 words. Mass media have been using this term incorrectly since forever.
Unfortunately, the bad side of things always seem to be emphasized and being exaggerated more than the good side. Hacker is big set, where Cracker is a smaller set inside. Simply put, a cracker is a hacker but a hacker is not necessarily a cracker. Crackers are termed as Black Hat Hackers.
Originally, there are 2 types of hackers – White Hat and Black Hat. White Hat Hackers are the good guys who breaks into computer systems just to make the owners realize the security flaws while Black Hat do malicious things for personal gains.
As time goes, there exists an intermediate hybrid – Grey Hat Hackers who sometimes act legally, sometimes in good will and sometimes not.
So… when a hacker turns bad, it is more accurate to call him/her a cracker rather than tainting the image of the whole hacker community. Too bad in Malay there’s only one word – penggodam which in general points to the word hacker.