@Hacker versus cracker
A hacker is someone who writes a bit of a code that is unusual and perhaps opens up a new field in IT, or is thrown in as a quick fix.
A hacker knows their systems so well they can hack in a solution fast, then comeback later to do it properly.
A hack is a bit of code that is particularly, clever but is not orthodox.
Perl for example is a hacked together language created by a hacker. And is full of hacks. Speed to stdout is faster than basic orthodox compiled C code, that is because of hacking. Perl is also finding it very hard to release a new version, and that is also because of all the hacks in it.
A cracker is someone who cracks into software, being on a network, harddrive, main memory is immaterial.
Cracking is the art of exploiting software.
Hacking is the art of creating new ideas and using the technology in innovative ways.
Now cracking is hacking, if and only if the person doing the cracking is doing it in a new innovative way, or perhaps doing it on the fly. But they are still cracking, they are distinct descriptors.
A DDoS attack nowadays, is a crack, but when it was found it was a hack. If it was used to cause instability then it was a crack, but if it was tested in controlled environment then it was a hack.
Cracking is breaking into secured software, so breaking the authentication mechanisms, or exploiting a bug, to cause the system to crash, or to give access where the design did not allow.
Whereas a hack may use a bug to keep a system stable.
Of course there is a grey area, but in practice it is quite obvious when cracking or hacking is occurring. But, grey areas such as using a worm to patch systems, generally fall into the realm of a crack, because you don't have authority to alter the state of other people's machines, and it may cause instability, but if you were to pull it off with no one negatively effected, that would be considered a hack. And a security company that notices some small signature may patch in a quick hack to the scanner perhaps, and then redo later.
And the hairy linux programmer idea, may also annoy those in the BSD camp, who claimed the hacker name a long time ago.
It is not so much an ethical thing really, but that is where people get annoyed, it is more to do with the intention and the action.
And I applaud El Reg for doing their bit, in using the correct terminology.