As is commonly known, a hacker is an individual who uses their technical knowledge to gain access to a computerised system through non-standard means. We often think of hackers as criminals, with nefarious intent, and as often as this might be the case, there is more than one type of hacker out there. Let’s take a look at the three most common types of hackers and what makes them unique.
White Hat Hacker
The term white hat hacker refers to what you might also know as an ethical hacker. They utilise their skills to identify security vulnerabilities in hardware, software or networks. Unlike their counterparts, black hat hackers or malicious hackers, they respect the rule of law as it applies to hacking.
White hat hackers are often hired by organisations to uncover security flaws in their systems in order to safeguard their business from cybercriminals. They attempt to hack company systems and networks using methods black hat hackers would use, and even try to fool staff into clicking on links that lead to malware infestation.
White hat hackers are one reason why larger businesses have fewer issues. Cybercriminals know that it’s much harder to gain access to systems managed by large organisations than those operated by small companies that generally don't have the resources to examine every conceivable security risk.
Grey Hat Hacker
Falling in between white hat hackers and black hat hackers, grey hat hackers enact a blend of traits from both sides. One way to think of these hackers is as the proverbial anti-heroes of the cyber world. Their intentions are often good; however, their tactics generally tend to violate laws and ethical standards pertaining to hacking.
Somewhere between white hat hackers and black hat hackers lie grey hat hackers. These hackers often think that they’re doing a service to companies by hacking their systems and exposing their security risks, but generally speaking business owners don’t appreciate unauthorised access to their system infrastructure.
Grey hat hackers tend to be geared toward displaying their skill and gaining publicity, or even appreciation for what they believe to be a contribution to cyber security. These hackers don’t usually mean any harm; they’re often simply curious about a system and try to gain access regardless of privacy or laws. In most instances organisations are provided with valuable insight, however white hat hackers and much of the cyber community don’t view their methods as ethical.
Black Hat Hacker
On the far side of the spectrum is our most well-known hacker, the black hat hacker. These individuals are criminals who break into computer networks with malicious intent. Often motivated by self-serving reasons, such as financial gain, revenge, or simply to cause havoc, these hackers will do anything to accomplish their goals. Stealing bank details, encrypting, leaking or destroying files, and infecting systems are just a few of the common crimes you can expect from these cybercriminals.
Like all hackers, black hats have an extensive knowledge of computer networks and experience in bypassing security protocols. These hackers also write the malware that is responsible for gaining unauthorised access to systems. They range from amateurs just starting out by spreading malware, to experienced hackers that are intent on stealing data, or even hackers conducting cyber espionage. Their primary motivation is usually financial gain, personal information, and login credentials. Not only do these hackers seek to steal data, they also like to modify or destroy it and even sell it on the black market. Stolen data is a very valuable commodity.
Unsurprisingly black hat hackers cause a lot of trouble for law enforcement, the problem is global and that makes it all the more difficult to stop. With hackers leaving little evidence, they are incredibly difficult to track. Authorities may have success shutting down operations in one country; however the same operation may be running across many countries meaning that it can continue to operate.
Securiwiser Can Help Your Organisation
Organisations can benefit from Securiwiser’s comprehensive cyber security tools. With routine daily scans to ensure that no suspicious behaviour goes undetected on your systems you can be sure that your business is secured. Securiwiser will monitor your domain for any unusual activity and compile a detailed report outlining your security performance and whether there are any risks. If any risks are found you will receive guidance on how to handle them and be advised where to get help should you be unable to mitigate any problems yourself. You’ll also get grades based on how well each aspect of your security is functioning, so you can focus on what needs the most attention.
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