In order to understand the term script kiddies, one must first be introduced to the topic of hacker ethics. Sounds like a paradox? Well, not necessarily.
There is a great amount of impressiveness in the fact that the most known symbols of our time – the Internet, personal computers, software such as Linux – have not been developed by big corporations or governments, but enthusiasts that have merely started working on their grand ideas by themselves.
The hackers' jargon file, composed collectively on the Internet, defines hackers as individuals who “code with enthusiasm“ and who believe that “sharing information is a positive good, while the ethical duty of the hacker is to share his expertise through free software and to enable access to information and computer resources wherever possible“.
On the first hacker conference in 1984., in San Francisco, Burrell Smith (credited with Apple's Macintosh) defined the term with the following words:
"Hackers can do almost anything and be a hacker. You can be a hacker carpenter. It's not necessarily high tech. I think it has to do with craftsmanship and caring about what you're doing."
If we look at it that way, computer hackers can be considered an excellent example of a greater work ethic – the hacker ethic – while the term can adopt a meaning of enthusiastic and passionate approach to work.
Hackers code because it is truly interesting, exciting, and fun.
Now that we have shed some light on the big topic of hacker ethics, it's easier to explain the phenomenon of script kiddies. Basically, this is a derogatory term used by professional hackers to describe individuals that reject the hacker ethic. These individuals have no agendas such as self-improvement, pursuit of knowledge, skill development, and higher motives such as free access to all knowledge sources.
They neglect all the steps and the educational process one is required to go through to develop hacking skills. They shortcut their way through this and teach themselves only the bare minimum as quickly as possible.
One of the biggest contrasts they represent compared to the hacker culture is that they are known to use scripts and programs that were written by other, professional hackers.
Are they dangerous? Unfortunately, very much so. Although they may lack in skills and experience, they are able to cause as much damage as their more professional counterparts.
What is their motivation? We already explained how their work does not comply with hacker ethics, so the best assumption is that they are doing it for fun, and to be able to brag about their computer-savviness.