Hackers ride the Matrix like mages ride the Astral Plane. But, while the Astral Plane is a shadowy representation of the real world, the Matrix is… whatever someone wants it to be. Hackers have avatars to represent them in the Matrix which look however they want to look (Conan? Pink Tony the Tiger? 6-armed blue ogre? Wall-E? All acceptable.)
The environment looks however the system likes it to or, with the right programs, however the hacker wants it to. Some systems appear as medieval castles, with “peasant” programs working the fields, “knight” IC (more on IC later) protecting important files stored in the “dungeon”. Or it’s a nightclub. Or it’s on Mars. Or it’s a microbial world in the primordial soup. Or…
Regardless, hackers specialize in manipulating, infiltrating, tracking, and stealing in the Matrix and anything connected to the Matrix. This includes computer systems, secured networks, security systems, and even the cyberware of the goon shooting at you.
And, since everyone and nearly everything are connected to the Matrix (or to a localized version of the Matrix), there’s very little a hacker can’t get their digital hands on with the right stuff.
For a decker, the right stuff is a “deck” (which allows them to interact with the Matrix in ways your standard runner can’t even imagine) and a suite of programs to break/sneak past security, get the goods, cover their tracks, and maybe take over the security system and Rick roll the corporate stooges controlling it.
Technomancer’s have a much different relationship with the Matrix. A few years back, some people began to hear the Resonance. There is much debate as to what it is, but many technomancers believe the Matrix has reached a level of ubiquity and power as to let it surpass mere technology and become a plane of existence all its own a la Astral space. Others believe that mana has “evolved” to fit the needs of the Sixth World and allowed magicians a more direct way to interact with technology.
Regardless of why, this attunement to the Resonance allow technomancers to, without any electronic help, tap into the Matrix (and any wirelessly enabled technology) the same way a decker can. Instead of programs, technomancers engage complex forms. Instead of agent programs, technomancers summon sprites from the bytecode of the Matrix itself.