Different Hacker Types Explained – Black Hat vs. Gray Hat vs. White Hat
People often associate hacking or hackers with a crime. However, the field has different variations, each having an individual goal and purpose in the hacking world. The people involved in stealing information and hacking into apps are known as black hat hackers, while white hat hackers are the ones that protect systems and people. There is a third category, which acts as a middle ground known as gray hat hackers.
So what are black hat hackers? What is the difference between black hat and white hack hackers? Why being a gray hat hacker is more complicated? If you have these questions in mind, you have landed on the right page. This article will answer all your burning questions and help you to understand the different hacker types.
So without further ado, let us begin with our conquest.
Black Hat Hackers: The criminals
Black hat hackers are the ones who steal information and hack into various systems to gain access to classified data and information. This type of hacking consists of criminals with high levels of coding expertise. They use their hacking skills to commit several crimes, which can vary from hacking into personal accounts or gaining access to secret government information or sensitive data.
Black hat hackers are professionals and highly skilled coders with years of expertise in the coding field. However, other categories, such as opportunists, are experts in convincing consumers to share sensitive data using behavioral engineering.
There are many scenarios where you may find the involvement of black hat hackers. Some of the typical motives behind black hat hacking include:
- Money – The ultimate goal of a black hat hacker is to steal money or financial secrets. Information about your credit card, bank accounts, and financial transactions are the primary target of black hat hackers.
- Accessing private information – Accessing confidential information is one of the most common scenarios involving black hat hackers. These hackers gain access to private data for personal vendetta or to seek information for financial gain.
- Hacking into finance information – Finance information of individuals, corporations, or government departments are the most lucrative assets for any black hat hacker. They will target anyone with big monetary pockets, primarily corporate and people dealing with government finance.
- Gaining access to property secrets – Alongside money, corporate properties’ financial information is a valuable target for black hat hackers.
White Hat Hackers: The protectors
Unlike black hat hackers, where everything starts and ends with stealing information and secrets, white hat hackers use their hacking skills to prevent these threats. White hat hackers work for different organizations, including government and business entities. They secure the infrastructure by regularly updating security protocols and sealing loopholes in the system.
White hat hackers mostly receive training from military or authorized hacking institutes, making them an excellent choice for any organization. Employing a white hat hacker will ensure that your information stays protected without breaking the law.
Here is the list of roles that a white hat hacker offers:
- White hat hackers monitor in and out traffic to check for signs and loopholes of hacking
- They develop and test patches to ensure safety and prevent security holes
- Identifying vulnerabilities and problems in the security system
- Hacking into your app or server to patch loopholes
- Testing and having up to date knowledge of the latest hacking tools and software
- Monitoring rival business apps for potential breach of data or information
- Performing tasks without breaking the law
White hat hackers work by the rules and keep everything intact for their employers. However, they are still hackers, and since they have all the access to your network, they can use this information to gain financial benefits. It would be best to do a background check before hiring someone.
Gray hat hackers: The tricky ground
Gray hat hackers are experts in camouflage. They can blend into black hat hackers from white hat hackers or vice versa according to their needs. Sometimes many consider grey hat hackers as black hat hackers as most of their work involves stealing information and data. However, if a white hat hacker strikes another fellow hacker, we can consider it an example of grey hat hacking.
Many organizations and businesses hire grey hat hackers to hack into their competitor’s network to steal valuable information. This information helps an entity to stay ahead of its competition and manipulate the market. Grey hat hackers act as a gold mine for these organizations, as they provide them with all the insight and plans of their competitors.
There are several versions or scenarios where grey hat hacking occurs. These versions include:
- Hacking into another’s server to improve security by illegally downloading code
- Transforming from a white hat hacker to a black hat hacker according to requirements
- Breaching other company’s data to strengthen your organization’s security and patch loopholes
- Intelligence agencies hacking into each other’s government data and information is also a part of grey hat hacking
- Hacking into government servers to access criminal records for identifying criminals
Grey hat hacking sits in between black hat and white hat hacking. Some grey hat hacking scenarios may seem related to black hat hacking, while others involve white hat hackers striking another white hat hacker.
Hackers use many tools and techniques to steal your information. Some of the standard tools hackers use are Rootkits, Keyloggers, and Vulnerability Scanner, while SQL Injection Attack and Distributed Denial-of-Service (DDoS) are the most common hacking techniques.
Ethical Hacking Explained
In the 1960s, the concept of hacking got some limelight and the term hacker was making noise at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. They used it to describe experts who were using their skills for re-developing mainframe systems. They were also focusing on allowing these systems to perform multi-task and enhancing their efficiency.
However, today in most situations, the term hacker refers to skilled programmers who usually try for unauthorized access into systems that belongs to others. This job involves exploiting weakness and using bugs and this task is usually motivated by mischief or malice. For example, today hackers create crack passwords and algorithms for penetrating networks and to disrupt some kind of network services.
A Common Phenomenon
Today, hacking is one of the most common phenomenons, and this has boosted by the increased popularity of E-commerce and the internet. To understand this, unethical and malicious hacking attacks are performed for stealing financial gain and valuable information. There is something called ethical hacking which is performed with some good motive. Ethical hackers are trained and hired by organizations for solving the vulnerabilities in their systems and networks. This job involves developing solutions for preventing data breaches. This is something like using a thief to catch a thief. In fact being an ethical hacker can lead to a very lucrative career. Many companies that heavily utilize technology have entire teams dedicated to this type of work. Large corporations and small startups alike use ethical hackers to identify and fix vulnerabilities in their operations, systems, and products. Some hold large ethical hacking contests with bounty rewards. For example, there is a bounty contest in which the top adult dating and sex apps, such as the one found here, offer rewards for identifying bugs and vulnerabilities thus allowing their users to skip the games and find casual sex without having to worry about unscrupulous people trying to exploit there technology. Since the publicized Ashley Madison hack this has become a much more visible issue in this space.
What is Ethical Hacking?
So, unlike unethical hacking, ethical hacking is completely authorized practice. Here the hacker bypasses the system security for identifying potential data breaches. He also performs tasks for finding threats in the system and in-network. The owner of the network gives permission to these cybersecurity experts for performing all kinds of activities and allow them to test his system. Unlike malicious or unethical hacking, ethical hacking is approved, planned, legal, and important.
Ethical hackers are experts who mainly aim to investigate the entire system and the network for weak points. These are the points that can be attacked by malicious hackers for destroying or exploiting the system. They also help the organization in collecting and analyzing all the required information to figure out the best ways to strengthen the security of the system. They help in strengthening applications and networks as well. With all these, they help the organization in improving the security footprint so that it withstands all kinds of attacks.
List of key vulnerabilities check by ethical hackers are:
- Components in the system which are used as access points
- Breach present in authentication protocols
- Exposure of data that is sensitive
- Changes made in security settings
- Injection attacks
White Hat Hacking
White hat is the word used for the practice of ethical hacking. The experts who perform ethical hacking are referred to as white hat hackers. In contrast, they refer to the word black hat for practices that involve security violations and illegal hackers are known as black hat hackers.
White hat hackers always perform their job with permission whereas grey hat hackers don’t. Grey hat hackers never dig up systems for third-party or personal benefit. There will not be any malicious intention behind their attacks. The majority of the time, they do it for fun and for other reasons as well. But, both black and great hat hackers are considered illegal. Their act comes under an unauthorized system breach even though the intentions are different.
White Hat vs. Black Hat Hacking
The motives are a very important consideration for differentiating between these two types of hackers. If the motive is good then you can consider the hacker as ethical. Black hat hackers always come with malicious intent and they will have motives like harassment, profit, and personal gains. But white hat hackers do their job for seeking out some kind of vulnerabilities and remedies and they also help in preventing attacks from black hat hackers.
Along with motives, you can also consider other points like techniques used for differentiating these two types. White hat hackers try to duplicate the methods and techniques which are followed by malicious hackers. Through this, they easily find out the replications and discrepancies. By all these either they will find out the attack occurred or expected attacks. In case if they find some weak points, then they will immediately report it and correct it.
Another thing you can consider is legality. Even though all the white hackers follow the methods and techniques which are similar to that of black hat hackers, these are legally accepted. But, black hat hackers perform the same techniques by breaking the law and they penetrate the system without consent.
Ownership is another aspect you can consider here. White hat hackers are employed by companies or offered bounties (Apple’s can be found here) and they are insisted to penetrate the company’s system. But black hat hackers are neither the owner of the system or they have permission to penetrate.
Even though ethical hackers are hired intentionally by the organization, they should follow certain guidelines before performing the hacking legally. Hence a good, white-hat hacker should know his roles and responsibilities.
A Deeper Look At Cybersecurity
Man creates and builds systems to nurture the values of civilization and the common good, but some men are always trying to throw a spanner in the works, to try and topple the system. Time-bound security is no longer effective. Cyber crime is not a time-bound activity for some, but twenty-four-hour continuous predation by counter systems. To counter this systemic attack, intense preparation is necessary. Not just defense, but offense, in the form of counter attacks, is necessary to survive in this ferocious ecosystem. Cyber security is the new buzzword. The first indication of an event is often the most significant. It may be through a software-defined alert or an end-user alert. “Help Desks” often act as the first alert systems against a cyber crime event. In general, such an event is, generally, a minor occurrence and can be tackled by the desk itself. These are called “incidents”. In the real world, help desks are often just one person with training in dealing with and solving primary or run of the mill problems, along with a help phone number called “Customer Care”.
The problems dealt with here are mostly not cyber crime related, and cyber security is therefore not called in. However, in the cases where the user calls and reports a cyber crime, much better organization and better back up is required. Where there are larger setups, teams of experts manning control desks, provide continuous consultation to the help desk. Significant cyber security events are important changes in the usual or everyday operations of a cyber network or information technology Service, which are created by a security breach or violation of the security policy of that system, or even the failure of security safeguard.
The Spread of Cyber Crime
Cyber Security deals with protection against hackers, malware and viruses. Personal and business information are increasingly under threat from all three forms of cyber crime. Millions of consumers in our digital world are affected by thefts of personal ID’s, and the consequent intrusion into the personal space and property of the users of the net. Data breaches are commonplace. All business communities are desperately fighting to ensure protection for themselves and their customers, and security measures are consequently increasing. Many of these security lapses are first detected by the common users, and it is to these ordinary customers that large institutions are often forced to turn to for support. We live in a connected world. In trying to protect ourselves from the treacherous forces of cyber criminals, we need to combine together to safeguard each other.
A typical ploy to extract your contact information by a hacker consists of sending an email which encourages the receiver to click on a link containing malware. Malicious actors often target adult websites and apps in hopes of tricking careless users. For this reason top hookup apps like https://LocalSexApp.com invest heavily in security and protection of their adult dating members as they detail here when explaining safety and privacy features on sex apps. When browsing adult content it is especially important to maintain vigilance. The hacker does not usually stop at extracting the user’s own personal ID and data. The user’s database is often accessed, and all the contacts phone numbers and other data are also extracted. The hacker then sets up a dark market outlet for selling these contacts to a larger organized crime network. Then this whole criminal setup preys on the contacts and their accounts. In other words, a large group is forced now to become victims of the original misstep by a single user. We need to combine forces to ward off these malicious attacks that can destroy our property and our peace of mind.
All interconnected components of an internet system can be compromised. These include the following:
- Government databases, which may or may not include license numbers, tax records, social security numbers etc.
- Financial data such as bank accounts, debit and credit card numbers, pay-check and loans.
- Educational systems with grades, report cards and research data.
- Communication systems like SMS, phone calls, emails, and any other text messages, records, photos and other storage data.
- Medical systems including medical records, medical insurance records, equipment etc.
Cybersecurity is based on the following three principles:
- Integrity: Integrity means the securing of any information from being altered from its original version. Some malware can totally scramble existing records and protocols and even cause lethal disasters. For example, altering patient records in medical establishments may cause patients treatment to be severely disturbed and may cause deterioration of the health of the patient.
- Confidentiality: Sensitive information must be shared only within a small circle of people who maintain the confidentiality of that information. If, for example, the credit card information is shared with criminals, it may result in depletion of the user’s bank account as well as the User’s reputation and credit rating.
- Availability: While enforcing security measures on an information system, it must be ensured that those who have the right to that information are able to access it. A cyber attack not only alters information irretrievably but can also prevent others, who have a right to that information, from accessing it. This can cause untold harm both to the Customer and to the System.
Countries that are best prepared for significant cyber-security events are Singapore, USA, Malaysia, Australia, France and Canada. The most common type of cyber crime events are hacking, identity theft, scamming, botnets, DDoS attacks, fraud, ransomware and computer viruses. Phishing, data leakage and insider threats are also the worst cyber threats at this point in time.
Conferences on this most important subject, affecting everybody in the digital world, are being held globally in 2020. Key events are being held to market a plethora of cyber security systems and types of equipment everywhere. The longest-running and most famous event in cyber security event is DEFCON (to be held on August 6, 2020, Las Vegas, USA). Founded in 1993, it brings together anyone interested in the hacking and cyber security scene. Black Hat Asia is held in Singapore and some of the most exceptional experts gather here on March 26 (up to 29th) to discuss state-of-the-art security techniques. Several other annual events, like the RSA Conference, are followed eagerly around the world.