The word “hacker” gets bandied around a lot these days as cybercriminal activity is a huge issue for individuals and organizations and has only become more so since the onset of the global pandemic.
However, while many hackers get up to a lot of criminal and mischievous activity, there are more types of people in this realm than most of us realize. Keep reading to learn about the six main types of hackers that we should all understand and the rundown on how they operate.
Most of us are starting to become a little more familiar with the idea of white hat hackers as more mention is made of them in the press. White hats are those who break into systems to do good instead of harm and get called “ethical hackers.” They get hired, typically, by organizations and individuals who want to find out if there are holes in their digital systems and security measures that need plugging.
They’re open, honest, and upfront about ways other people with bad intentions could cause trouble for their clients. Most are paid for their services, but some people also act as white hat hackers out of their own general interest and motivation. White hat hackers tend to use many of the same methods as black hat hackers, who are the ones we’re most familiar with hearing about, but they have permission from systems owners, and the process is legal in turn.
A black hat is the name of a hacker who breaks into networks, crashes systems, holds data to ransom, and so on, for nefarious aims. This is the type we hear about most in the news. They want to profit from the data breaches they create, whether by getting money out of victims in some way or for personal notoriety or other gains.
Typically, black hatters steal information, but they might also modify, destroy, or block other people’s access to it. They can also release details and make them public when information owners don’t want that to happen. Black hat hacks conduct illegal and unauthorized cyberattacks on both individuals and organizations.
They’re known for writing their own malware or adapting what other people created, and they deal in cyber espionage regularly. This is the type of hackers you particularly need to protect yourself against by using security software with ransomware protection and safeguards against other types of malware, viruses, spyware, and the like.
Another type of hacker is the gray hat. As the name indicates, these people fall somewhere on the scale between white hat and black hat hackers in both intentions and behavior. They typically aren’t out for personal gain from their break-ins, but they do tend to do illegal things, and they can have both good and bad intentions. For instance, they might delight in challenging themselves or gaining notoriety by hacking seemingly impossible-to-get-into systems.
They are often the people who will leak the information they find or share the details, on a public forum, about how they broke in. They may tell system owners that they were able to gain access or keep this to themselves, and they might also ask for some payment to fix the security gaps they exploited for their hacks.
Blue hat hackers, on the other hand, are another type you want to avoid getting attacked by. These people tend to do digital things to get revenge on those who make them angry and see as wronging them. For instance, they’ll go after groups, businesses, or even individuals who have hurt or annoyed them in some way and modify exciting code to create viruses and malware they can use for their own specific purposes.
Hackers all have to start somewhere when it comes to building their skills, and those who are new to this world are called green hat hackers due to their new, “green” status with much to learn. These people are looking for more knowledge and experience in the hacking arena and hope to eventually become full-blown, talented hackers. They often ask established hackers for advice and assistance and spend a lot of time checking out forums and other online spots where they can pick up tips.
The last hacker type you need to know about is the one called script kiddies. This type is known for being reckless, impulsive, and keen on making a nuisance of themselves and causing as big a mess for others as possible. They don’t worry about developing their own coding or creating advanced tactics. Instead, they use existing tools to access and deface websites and other digital content and gain attention that way.
It can be uncomfortable to think about all the types of hackers out there, but the more armed we are with information, the better. Understanding the reality of this world helps motivate us to take measures to protect our data and identities and stay safer in turn.