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.
The programming language Swift was developed by Apple Inc. and first officially launched on 2014. It is a general purpose, compiler programming language intended for its usage on a wide variety of application domain. It has a multi- paradigm feature that attributes it as a protocol oriented, object-oriented, functional, imperative and block structured declarative programming language. It is an intuitive programming language designed for operating systems like macOS, iOS, tvOS, iOS, iPadOS, Linux, watchOS and z/OS. It is mainly designed for Apple’s native API Cocoa, the development framework Cocoa Touch and the object-oriented C codes used widely for various Apple products. It aims in incorporating various Objective-C code features ensuring much wider security factors, which in turn helps the software testers to identify software bugs more easily.
Learning Swift For Ethical Hacking Purposes
Swift is recognized as a ‘powerful’ and fastest growing programming language in the history of technology. The popularity of this language among techies has come from the ‘intuitive’ part which makes Swift an easy to learn and easy to use programming language, even for non-programmers and with minimum technical know-how. The developers find Swift coding to be interactive and fun due to its lucid application of simpler syntaxes that are compact yet demonstrative. New programmers find it friendly and easy to adopt. Swift language is incorporated with modern features that are equally welcoming for the developers and end users using the final product. It is designed in a ‘safe’ format and it is also known to develop softwares that has unmatched operational speed. Whether it is for phone, desktop, servers or any other machine running codes, Swift is a perfect solution for developing APIs for every platform. This is why it is very commonly used in mobile app development. This also makes Swift very good to know for ethical hacking purposes. There are many well known bug bounty programs offered for large mobile app companies. In fact a popular casual dating app called MeetnFuck gave two programmers a reward of $250,000 USD for discovering and exploit and implementing a fix to their Swift coding. Adult apps tend to offer large rewards due to them often being targeted for security and data breaches.
Key Features Supported By Swift Coding
- Swift is closure supportive.
- In Objective-C using of some core strings required method calls, which in Swift has been incorporated in the core language making it easily accessible.
- Five levels of access control are supported by the Swift. The levels are open, public, internal, private and fileprivate.
- An important inclusion in Swift is the usage of option types and using a new keyword ‘guard’ to protect the chaining process.
- Swift allows the usage of objects that has got pass-by-value semantics making it a feature that provides flexibility to the programmers.
- Protocols or more commonly known as interfaces are used in Swift, making it a protocol-oriented programming.
- Easier memory allocation and deallocation with the incorporation of Automatic Reference Counting or ARC memory management.
- Efficient debugging on the development environment for the usage of read-eval-print loop or REPL. The REPL adoption with the Swift playgrounds, has made debugging interactive and hence much easier by responding well with run time debugger changes and codes.
- High performance with safety assurance.
Swift is said to have produced some ground-breaking results combining the best of Apple’s engineering think-tanks and the wide open source of contributors.
Perhaps you experienced or at least heard about the massively distributed malware WannaCry. In May 2017, this malware infected and shut down millions of computers all around the world. The malware demanded a ransom, but then strangely it was stopped. This is the story of how that happened as well as the weird twists and turns afterwards. Ultimately this story of Marcus Hutchins illustrates a lot about attitudes towards hacking, whether ethical or not. Check it out.
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.
Hacking is referred to as the activities which actually seek to compromise all kinds of digital devices. It can be tablets, smartphones, and computers or it can even be an entire network. Hacking need not be connected to malicious purpose in all cases. Hackers need not be cyber criminals but in most the cases they are and what is the reason hacking has been connected with malicious activities. Hacking can be connected to fun or some kind of challenge, it can be for spying, information gathering, protest, or in some cases it can be for financial gain.
The majority of the people think that hackers are nothing but a rogue programmer or a self-taught whiz kid who is very good at programming skills and they can easily modify computer software and hardware. But, this is definitely a narrow view. There can be plenty of reasons behind hacking and hackers are of different types than just a skilled programmer. For a person turning into hacking, there can be plenty of reasons.
But one thing is true hacking is always technical in nature. But it is possible that hackers make use of their psychological skills to attack a user. Tricking can be done by offering some personal data or some kind of malicious attachment. Social engineering is the term used for such kind of tactics.
Hacking is nothing but an over-arching umbrella that includes a number of tactics and activities. Malvertizing and social engineering are two of the main techniques used in hacking. Other than these, there are many other hacking techniques. Some of them are:
- Denial of service
Types of Hackers or Hacking
There are mainly four reasons behind hacking and hackers attempt to hack computers mostly for these reasons.
- The first reason is with some financial gain. Hackers try to hack some information just because they need money from credit or debit cards. Hacking can also happen by defrauding the banking systems.
- Hacking can also happen for some reasons like burnishing someone’s reputation. Hackers can do it in many ways and one among them is, leaving something unusual on the website.
- Third, being corporate espionage. Competitors can hack information about some companies and use them for their growth.
- The fourth reason can be for stealing national or business intelligence. This can be sponsored in many cases and in most the cases it is for good reasons.
Along with these, there is one more category of cybercriminals. These hackers are motivated for some reason like it can be political or social. They are called as hacktivists. Through unflattering attention, they want to gain public attention and for that reason, they perform hacking activities.
Mainly there are two types of hackers. One is white hat hackers and the other is gray hat hackers. White hackers are meant to improve the security system by finding and preventing possible threats. But gray hackers utilize their skills and break the systems and this happens without permission.
This is all about hacking and hackers and there is plenty of information that you need to understand about hacking.