Computer professionals known as hackers utilize advanced programming techniques to defeat security procedures and obtain access to systems or networks. However, not all hacking is unlawful, and not all hackers hack systems with malicious intentions.
Hackers fall into three general categories: black hat hackers, white hat hackers, and gray hat hackers. Although hackers are often associated with exploiting vulnerabilities to gain unauthorized access to computers, systems, or networks, not all hacking is malicious or illegal.
Black hat hackers
Black hat hackers are cybercriminals that illegally crack systems with malicious intent. Seeking to gain unauthorized access to computer systems is the definition of black hat hacking. Once a black hat hacker finds a security vulnerability, they try to exploit it, often by implanting a virus or other type of malware such as a trojan.
Black hat hackers frequently employ ransomware attacks as an additional tactic to extract money or compromise data systems.
White hat hackers
White hat hackers are ethical security hackers who identify and fix vulnerabilities. Hacking into systems with the permission of the organizations they hack into, white hat hackers try to uncover system weaknesses in order to fix them and help strengthen a system’s overall security.
Gray hat hackers
Gray hat hackers may not have the criminal or malicious intent of a black hat hacker, but they also don’t have the prior knowledge or consent of those whose systems they hack into. However, gray hat hackers don’t completely exploit gaps they find, such as zero-day flaws instead, they report them. Gray hat hackers, however, can request payment in exchange for full disclosure of what they discovered.
Other Sub-types of hackers
- Green hat hackers: green hat hackers are “green” in the sense that they’re inexperienced and may lack the technical skills of more experienced hackers. Green hats may rely on phishing and other social engineering techniques to bypass security systems.
- Blue hat hackers: blue hat hackers are white hat hackers who are actually employed by an organization to help improve their security systems by conducting penetration tests.
- Red hat hackers: Also known as vigilante hackers, red hat hackers are motivated by a desire to fight back against black hat hackers, but they do this by infiltrating black hat communities on the dark web and launching hacking attacks against their networks and devices.
Hackers are computer experts that use advanced programming skills to neutralize security protocols and gain access to devices or networks. But not all hacking is unauthorized, and not all hackers break into systems with nefarious aims.