The term “hacker” can often do a disservice to the various motivations, organizations and methods behind information breaches. Recently charged Chinese cyber-agents, for example, have little in common with hacktivists like Anonymous and LulzSec who target high profile sites to social statements.
Agnostic of motivation, breaking and entering secure databases or taking out websites requires a deep understanding of code and systems architecture. Participation in breaches can also include a deep knowledge of the players in the game. That latter has allowed former LulzSec leader Hector Xavier Monsegur to avoid additional jail time, acting as an informant to federal forces and giving them information about various hacking methods, vulnerabilities and individuals.