When we think of the word “hackers,” the image that comes to mind is usually a lone cybercriminal sitting at their computer looking for ways to steal from individuals, companies, or government organizations.
However, there are all sorts of different hackers globally, and they all have different motivations and varying techniques to obtain their goals. In this tech-driven world, it pays to understand the types out there and how they work. Here are five of the main ones you can get the lowdown on.
The most well-known type of cybercriminal is the black hat one. This is the person who hacks into systems or uses other strategies to profit somehow, through financial or other gains. Much of the time, black hats perform data breaches to steal information, but sometimes they destroy, modify, or hold details for ransom. They attack individuals, businesses, government departments, charities, and other organizations.
Black hat hackers are well versed in how to break into systems and bypass the various security protocols they come across. Many of them write their own malware, too, and are often involved in cyber espionage crimes. This is the predominant type of hacker the everyday consumer and manager needs to keep at bay. It’s crucial to set up a comprehensive, secure network to protect data. Also, use quality passwords on all devices and accounts, and keep software updated at all times to make it harder for hackers to find a way in.
As the name suggests, script kiddies are hackers who don’t care about making a mess for others to clean up. They’re novices at the “game,” new to the hacking world, and act recklessly. They’re happy making a nuisance of themselves as much as possible. Since they don’t have the skills of more experienced cybercriminals, they typically have to use existing tools created by others to access online content and deface webpages, amongst other things.
They concentrate on utilizing off-the-shelf options to launch attacks as soon as they can and don’t take much time to concern themselves about how clever, successful, or nuanced these actions are. For them, the thrill seems to be in impressing others and gaining as much limelight as they can.
If you told someone you’re a hacker, most people would be shocked and concerned, assuming you’re only ever up to no good when you get online. However, white hat hackers are a different type altogether, and rather than trying to cause harm, they’re working for good.
White hat hackers are also known as ethical hackers because what they do helps individuals and organizations to discover and attend to security risks. These cyber specialists conduct their business in an open, honest, upfront way with clients who hire them to try to find holes in digital systems and plug such gaps to keep black hat hackers away.
While white hat hackers tend to use many of the same techniques as black hatters, the critical difference is that they have permission from network and device owners to test for weaknesses. The process is, as such, perfectly legal. These hackers provide a much-needed and appreciated service.
Another type of hacker is the gray hat. As you might guess from the title, these people fall in between black and white hackers with a mixture of good and bad intentions and outcomes. For example, they don’t usually use their skills to gain financially, but they do often break into systems without being legally authorized to do so. The reason for this is typically for the challenge and thrill.
Gray hat hackers are known for sometimes causing issues by leaking the details they find on the systems they attack or by going public about the exact steps they took to be able to get into a network or device. On occasions, gray hatters notify the businesses or other organizations they’ve hacked to let them know their system isn’t as secure as they thought. The hackers may ask for a small payment to fix the gaps they exploited, too.
The other common hacker type to know about is the blue hat. Like black hatters, you don’t want to draw the attention or ire of these people. Rather than being all about making money from their “work,” these cybercriminals are looking to take revenge on anyone who has made them mad – it’s all personal for this particular category of hacker.
They’re aggressive, vengeful, and often very skilled. They frequently modify existing virus and malware code found online to suit their own needs.
Like people in general, hackers exist along every part of the spectrum, from honorable to dishonorable, and, of course, many do jobs for different reasons at different times. Having some insight into the varying types can help you see the digital landscape more clearly and how to protect yourself more effectively.