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Technology has evolved rapidly in the last two decades, bringing about new innovations and tools to help us navigate our tech-driven world. Computers and the Internet have changed the work environment of the world beyond imagination.
Computer hacking is the act of identifying and exploiting the system and network vulnerabilities in order to obtain unauthorized access to those systems. The term ‘HACKER’ probably appeared in your news feed most of the time last year, for most of the prominent attacks and it’s likely to pop up a lot more.
Who Is Called A Hacker? How Are They Classified?
- A hacker is a person skilled in information and computer technology who uses their technical knowledge to achieve a goal or overcome an obstacle, within a computerized system by non-standard means. A hacker is just a person who uses computer programming or technical skills to overcome a challenge or problem.
- Hackers can be classified into different categories such as White Hat, Black Hat, and Grey Hat, based on their intent of hacking a system. These different terms come from old Spaghetti Westerns, where the bad guy or a criminal wears a black cowboy hat, and the good guy wears a white hat.
The word ‘HACKERS’ is most likely a familiar term to almost everyone. There are different types of hackers, and hacking techniques exist. However, not everyone knows the entire concept of hacking including their targets, different hacking techniques, types of hackers, and their motives.
So, let’s take a look at how many types of hackers are there, and the types of hacker attacks, and techniques.
1. White Hat Hackers: The Authorized Hackers
A white hat hacker is an Ethical Security Hacker. Ethical Hacking is not illegal and it is one of the demanding jobs available in the IT industry. White hat hackers are types of hackers who’re professionals with expertise in cybersecurity.
- A white hat hacker is an ethical computer hacker and a computer security expert who specializes in penetration testing and other testing methods that ensure the security of an organization’s information system.
- This is an individual person who uses hacking skills to detect security vulnerabilities in hardware, software or networks. White hat hackers also called Ethical Hackers.
They are authorized or certified to hack the systems. These White Hat Hackers work for governments or organizations by getting into the system.
2. Black Hat Hackers: The Security Cracker
Black hat hackers are malicious hackers sometimes called crackers. A black hat hacker is a hacker who violates the cyber laws for their own profit. They are the bad guys of the hacker world. Black hat hackers are also knowledgeable computer experts but with the wrong intention. Black hat hacking is totally illegal.
- Black hat hackers are actually criminals who enter computer networks with malicious intent and expose malware that destroys files and computer systems.
- Their main intention is to steal passwords, credit card and bank account numbers, sensitive personal information and blackmailing.
Their advanced technical knowledge and ability to navigate the cybersecurity landscape make them so skilled in carrying out their attacks. They go out of their way to find vulnerabilities in computer systems and software, which they exploit for financial gain or other malicious purposes. They can also modify or destroy the data as well.
3. Grey Hat Hackers
The Gray hat hacker falls in between the black hat hackers and white hat hackers. These types of hackers do not inherently corrupt their motives; they are just looking to get something from their own discovery.
- A grey hat hacker may sometimes violate laws of typical ethical standards, but does not have the malicious intent typical of a black hat hacker.
- Typically, they engage in hacking activities for the pure enjoyment of finding gaps in computer systems, and they might even let the owner know if any weak points are found.
One of the most common examples given of a gray hat hacker is someone who exploits a security vulnerability in order to spread public awareness that the vulnerability exists. Grey hat hacking is sometimes acted legally and sometimes not. The term came into use in the late 1990s, derived from the concepts of ‘White Hat’ and ‘Black Hat’ hackers.
4. Red Hat Hackers
Red hat hackers are again a blend of both black hat and white hat hackers. They are also known as the ‘Eagle-Eyed Hackers’. Like white hat hackers, red hat hackers also aim to halt the black hat hackers. There is a major difference in the way they operate.
- Red Hat Hackers are usually on the level of hacking government agencies, top-secret information hubs, and generally anything that falls under the category of sensitive information.
- While red hat hackers are not inherently evil, they do everything they can to stop the bad guys, including taking matters into their own hands.
Red hat hackers are often dubbed the Robin Hoods of the virtual world. They take aggressive steps to stop black hat hackers. They are known to be particularly ruthless in their hunt for black hat criminals, and typically use any means possible to take them down.
5. Blue Hat Hackers
The word ‘Blue Hat’ is used to describe computer security firms, hired to test a system prior to launch. A blue hat hacker is someone outside computer security consulting firms who is used to bug test a system prior to its launch, looking for exploits so they can be closed.
The Microsoft Corporation is well known for hiring ‘Blue Hats’ to test their Windows products for vulnerabilities. So, the Blue Hat Hacker also refers to the security professional invited by Microsoft to find vulnerabilities in Windows. They look for system loopholes that can be exploited and try to close these gaps.
6. Green Hat Hackers
A Green Hat Hacker is someone who is new to the hacking world but is intently focused on increasing their cyber attack skills. In short, they are the new kids on the digital block. They primarily focus on gaining knowledge on how to perform cyber attacks on the same level as their black hat counterparts.
- Green hats are amateur hackers still learning the ropes. They often are wannabe hackers who study the hacking community through how-to videos or tutorials.
- Sometimes, they practice actual hacking to see what they’re capable of doing and learn new ways to breach systems.
Therefore, green hat hackers may not be as familiar with all the security mechanisms companies or individuals may be using. Unlike the other hacker categories, they may not be as well-versed with the inner workings of the web.
7. Script Kiddies
A Script Kiddie is a non-expert who breaks into computer systems by using pre-packaged automated tools written by others, usually with little understanding of the underlying concept, hence the term Kiddie. The Script Kiddies are amateurs’ types of hackers in the field of hacking. They try to hack the systems or websites with scripts from other fellow hackers.
- A Script Kiddie, Skiddie, or Skid is a relatively unskilled individual who uses scripts or programs, such as a web shell, developed by others to attack computer systems and networks and deface websites, according to the programming and hacking cultures.
- Script kiddies rely on software or script written by others and do not have the proper knowledge to create or modify their own software or techniques.
The intention behind the hacking is just to get attention from their peers. Script Kiddies are juveniles who do not have complete knowledge of the hacking process.
8. Elite Hackers
Elite hackers are considered to be the highest skilled hackers in their field. Unlike crackers, elite hackers avoid deliberately destroying information or otherwise damaging the computer systems they have exploited.
They’re often the first ones to discover cutting-edge attack methods, and are known to be the experts and innovators in the hacking world. This is a social status among hackers, which is used to describe the most skilled. Newly discovered exploits will circulate among these hackers.
Hacktivists are groups of criminals who unite to carry out cyber attacks in support of political causes. They pose themselves as activists, so known as a Hacktivist. These types of hackers intend to hack government websites.
- A hacktivist is a hacker who utilizes technology to announce a social, ideological, religious, or political message. In general, most hacktivism involves website defacement or denial-of-service (DoS) attacks.
- Hacktivist can be an individual or a bunch of nameless hackers whose intent is to gain access to government websites and networks. The data gained from government files accessed are used for personal political or social gain.
Hacktivists targets include Religious Organizations, Terrorists, Drug Dealers, and Government Agencies. Hacktivists typically target entire industries but sometimes attack specific organizations that they feel don’t align with their political views or practices.
10. Malicious Insider or Whistleblower
Malicious insider hackers are individuals who employ a cyberattack from within the organization they work for. Whistleblowers get their name for leaking and drawing attention to private data stolen from within their own organization or an organization they used to work for.
- These types of hackers include individuals working in an organization who can expose confidential information. The intent behind the exposure might be a personal grudge with the organization or the individual might have come across the illegal activities within the organization.
- Whistleblowers get their name for leaking and drawing attention to private data stolen from within their own organization or an organization they used to work for.
Actually, their motivation for the attack can vary from acting on a personal grudge they have against someone they work for to finding and exposing illegal activity within the organization. Often it is information or activity occurring within a private, public, or government organization that’s illegal, illicit, abusive, or deemed otherwise immoral or questionable behavior.
11. State/Nation Sponsored Hackers
State/Nation Sponsored Hackers are appointed by a country’s government to gain access to another nation’s computer systems. They use their knowledge to gain confidential information from other countries to be well prepared for any upcoming danger to their country.
- Their cybersecurity skills are used to retrieve confidential information from other countries in preparation for a potential upcoming threat or attack, as well as to keep a pulse on sensitive situations that could pose a threat in the future. These types of hackers are hired solely by government agencies.
- The sensitive information aids to be on top of every situation but also to avoid upcoming danger. They report only to their governments.
Governments across the world hire these professional hackers to break into another nation or the international agency’s digital system. They typically fly under the radar to remain undetected by their rivals and their findings are exclusively reported back to their government client.
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