Types of hackers and how dangerous they are

19.05.2021 541 0

Security is a constant concern for every website owner. And it’s totally understandable when you consider all the different threats that can hit you on the Internet. But behind every attack, there’s a human mind or a group of them. The so-called hackers. Have you wondered what their motives are? How do they operate?

Just by reading the word “hackers” we can get goosebumps. It’s not a comfortable topic but the more you know about them, the better you can protect yourself from their attacks.

What is a hacker?

This term’s connotation has changed a lot. Back in the 1960s, in the technological field, a hacker was a rather positive word. Hackers were enthusiasts who liked to explore tech issues in detail, looking for solutions. It was a creative way to challenge one’s knowledge and skills.

Later, when open-source software emerged, a lot of developers got involved. The word hacker was used among them with positive connotations. Hacking was actually part of digging into some technology to make it better. Some of those hackers formally established rules to benefit communities. 

However, other hackers decided to use their skills for personal gains. Their motives were far from good. By the 1980s, the growing number of black hackers pushed the community to clearly divide the good ones from the bad ones, to defend their reputation. There was a proposal to use the following terms: hackers (good guys) vs crackers (bad guys). 

Confusion outside these communities to understand the term and the constant use of “hacker” to refer to cybercriminals in the press facilitated the negative meaning. 

What is the colored hat categorization?

The colored hat categorization was created by the hackers themselves to distinguish between good and bad guys in their communities. This is a reference taken from Western movies. In these films, it was common for the protagonists to use a white hat on their heads. Meanwhile, the antagonists were identified through the black hat. 

Currently, this categorization looks more like a rainbow. More hat colors have been added to it since the variety of hackers has diversified. Here you have some of the most popular types of hackers – from the harmless to the most dangerous.

White hat

Тhe ethical hackers. The IT and computing experts, professionals hacking into possible vulnerabilities but with the purpose of fixing them and strengthening the security for users. They don’t hide in the shadows. They have full authorization to do this inside all kinds of big organizations’ software, hardware, networks, etc.

All techniques are at their disposal as long as they are legal. Their goal is clear: to detect vulnerabilities before black hat hackers do it. White hat hackers are not a threat to you. They are on your side.

Red hat

The criminal hunters. These are the experts who fight crime in the face of the black hat hackers. They monitor cyber-criminal movements and their purpose is similar to that of the white hats. The big difference is the way every group of hackers operates.

White hats respect the law, while red hats fight as aggressively as required, with the necessary techniques to stop or damage black hat hackers’ systems and resources. Red hat guys will use all the means they have to achieve their end goal.

All kinds of malware, spoofing techniques, Dos, and DDoS attacks commonly implemented by criminals are used by red hat hackers to fight against the darkest hackers. Their objective is to bring them down.

Blue hat  

Vengeful hackers. These people can be harmless employees, partners, regular users involved or not, in computing and technology… until something happens and awakes their vengeful feelings.

To take vengeance on a specific target, they can learn all the necessary methods. They will be as malicious as the situation demands. However, being vindictive is not their usual behavior. Retaliation is a consequence of a specific incident with someone (human or organization). The bigger the offense they complain about, the more dangerous the methods they use.

Blue hat hackers are not a threat to everybody. As long as you don’t make people angry, you and your organization should be safe from blue hackers’ attacks.

Green hat

The trainee hackers. Hacker communities are wide and a lot of new people get attracted to them. Some are professionals, others – just people trying to learn hacking tricks on the way. Famous hackers, mainly black hat ones, become their idols. Green hat hackers are beginners, learning and eager to train their new skills. They want to become someone in the hacking world and get profits.

They constantly learn coding, scripting, and all possible methods that expert hackers teach them. Their enthusiasm is more dangerous in this step than their skills as hackers. Still, they can cause trouble. They are more into the theory but they know the way to improve is through practice. Since they don’t get properly the consequences, they could attack without a clear understanding of their actions.

Gray hat

Personal profit first. These experts are only motivated by personal gains. They don’t care if their actions will harm someone. They directly take the challenge if they can get something attractive for themselves. From recognition and respect in their communities to fun or money, no matter the source (legal or illegal). They have knowledge and skills and they don’t waste them. Since their goals can be black or white, their behavior falls on the gray area. 

Because they enjoy experimenting experiment and taking on new challenges, they use all kinds of methods without limits. They are still a threat. Whether their behavior is good or bad will be like a coin flip. Their motives may not be black, but the actions to reach their objectives can go to extreme sides, black and white. This unpredictability is not safe for anyone.

Black hat

Criminals in search of monetary profit. These hackers are computing experts that use their skills to get profits illegally. They attack all kinds of organizations to steal money, something they can sell or information they can use to extort. For instance, sensitive data, clients’ data, research and development documents, all kind of intellectual property, etc. They can also destroy such important information in exchange for a payment. 

The black hat color suits their malicious intent very well. Everybody can be their target – big, medium, small, profit and non-profit organizations, regular users, etc.

Techniques used by these hackers will depend on their own abilities, knowledge, and the size of the target they attack (banks, e-shops, government agencies, tech companies, users of a specific service or application, etc.). They can implement any type of attack ranging from malware, phishing, to DoS and DDoS. Black hat hackers are a very dangerous threat. 

Hackers’ motives matter

The motivation clearly defines the kind of hackers behind the attacks and the level of danger they pose. These are the official color hats but for sure more colors could be added.

Activism frequently motivates hackers to cause harm in exchange for profit. Governments also recruit brilliant hackers to spy on other nations or open back doors in their systems. Corporate espionage, botnet creators, and sellers are other trends. Fields like gaming and cryptocurrencies already have their fair share of hackers.

Conclusion

Cybersecurity is not just about technology. Human minds behind attacks are also a factor to consider. Protocols, filters, firewalls, passwords, etc. can be defenses or weapons. The positive or negative use is finally defined by one’s purposes.

Many hackers are as smart and professionally prepared as the best IT team. Our traditional offline world is quickly migrating to the online one (banking, education, researching, working, etc.). No doubt, security will keep being a massive priority for everybody. 

As movie viewers, we sometimes enjoy overwhelming turning points, unexpected ends of stories, even some charming bad guys. But in this “hacking movie”, we are not simply witnesses. Our identity, sensitive data, savings, businesses, etc. are at risk. Then a traditional, happy end, with the good guys completely beating the bad ones is what we really hope for.

If you want to learn more about cracking and passwords, check out this next article in our blog:

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