Hacking often refers to the unauthorized intrusion into a network or computer; normally carried out by one or more “hackers.” However, a hacker can be anyone. They can be an individual like you or me. They can work solo or be employed by an organization that has the motive to disrupt something or cause havoc––unnecessarily. Often, they look to alter security systems to achieve their goal, which differs from the actual purpose of the system.
There are also many organizations who hire hackers as a part of their staff. These hackers use their skills to find flaws, vulnerable areas, and weak spots in the organization’s security system. This is done to find and fix the weaknesses and prevent malicious hackers from breaking in the security system.
Types of Hackers around the Globe
White, black, and grey refer to the relationship between the hacker and the systems they are attacking.
‘Black Hat’ Hackers
The term “black hat” originated from Western movies, where the bad guys wore black hats and the good guys wore white hats.
A black-hat hacker is an individual who attempts to gain unauthorized entry into a system or network to exploit them for malicious reasons. The black-hat hacker does not have any permission or authority to compromise their targets. They try to inflict damage by compromising security systems, altering functions of websites and networks, or shutting down systems. They often do so to steal or gain access to passwords, financial information, and other personal data.
‘White Hat’ Hackers
White-hat hackers, on the other hand, are deemed to be the good guys, working with organizations to strengthen the security of a system. A white hat has permission to engage the targets and to compromise them within the prescribed rules of engagement.
White-hat hackers are often referred to as ethical hackers. This individual specializes in ethical hacking tools, techniques, and methodologies to secure an organization’s information systems.
Unlike black-hat hackers, ethical hackers exploit security networks and look for backdoors when they are legally permitted to do so. White-hat hackers always disclose every vulnerability they find in the company’s security system so that it can be fixed before they are being exploited by malicious actors.
Some Fortune 50 companies like Facebook, Microsoft, and Google also use white-hat hackers.
‘Grey Hat’ Hackers
Grey hats exploit networks and computer systems in the way that black hats do, but do so without any malicious intent, disclosing all loopholes and vulnerabilities to law enforcement agencies or intelligence agencies.
Usually, grey-hat hackers surf the net and hack into computer systems to notify the administrator or the owner that their system/network contains one or more vulnerabilities that must be fixed immediately. Grey hats may also extort the hacked, offering to correct the defect for a nominal fee.