A black cap, a white hat, a grey hat, a blue hat, a green hat, a red hat. No, these are not items in the inventory of a clothing store; they are the various types of hackers that you can encounter in the cybersecurity industry.
The term “hacker” is frequently depicted by the media unfairly and as associated with cybercriminals. When people hear the term “hacker,” they instinctively picture a shady man wearing a black hoodie who is sitting in a dark cellar on a computer. Although that definition is valid for certain hacker styles, it does not extend to all of them. That’s how the cybersecurity industry has six different types of hackers, all of which have different reasons and aims.
We’ll discuss the six distinct types of hackers in this post, why they do what they do, and how their practises vary.
What Are the Six Different Types of Hackers?
Hackers are also categorised by “hats” of varying colours. It’s also considered to be a nod to old-school western classics, where black hats were often worn by bad guys and white hats were worn by good guys. So, depending on their intentions and behaviour, the industry usually differentiates hackers.
Yet things aren’t all that black and white when it comes to cybersecurity (excuse the pun). The hats of hackers come in a number of colours:
- White hat
- Grey hat
- Black hat
- Blue hat
- Green hat
- Red hat
So, what are the distinctions between these various types of hackers? Let’s have it tested.
Black Hat Hacker
The bad men who intend to use their technological knowledge to defraud and blackmail others are black hat hackers. Without the approval of the owners, they typically have the skills and experience to hack into computer networks, manipulate security bugs, and override security protocols. They are willing to do some criminal acts to make profits, such as:
- Sending emails and SMS phishing texts.
- Writing, distribution, and sale of malware such as viruses, worms, trojan horses, etc.
- Deploying cyber attacks to slow down or crash websites, such as distributed denial of service (DDoS).
- Earning capital for political and industrial spying operations.
- Looking and manipulating bugs in leaky databases and applications.
- Selling the Dark Web of financial and publicly identifying information.
- Executing bank fraud and offences connected with identity theft.
- Deploying harmful cyber threats such as attacks by brute force, scareware, botnets, man-in-the-middle attacks, campaigns of malvertising, etc.
Black hat hackers are also interested in the victims getting blackmailed. To encrypt, lock, snatch, alter, and erase your files, they use ransomware and spyware. Usually, black hat hackers demand ransom money to give the files, system, databases, or the whole computer control back. They are also known to intimidate people, threatening, if they don’t pay, to expose their private records, company papers, personal photographs, videos, etc. to the media.
White Hat Hacker
There can’t be a greater gap than the gulf between white and black hat hackers when it comes to knowing the various kinds of hackers. White hat hackers are the polar opposite to their black hat counterparts (also referred to as ethical hackers). To protect the environment from bad hackers, they use their technological expertise.
White hats was employed by businesses and government departments as information technology experts, researchers in cryptography, security professionals, penetration testers, etc. They also work as autonomous contractors or freelancers. White hat hackers use the same methods in hacking as black hat hackers, but with the approval of the device creator, they do so and their motives are noble.
What are their motives, however? Hackers with white hat hack to:
- Find and patch device bugs until they’re abused by black hat hackers.
- Build software that can diagnose and minimise or obstruct cyberattacks.
- Strengthen the device and hardware modules’ total security posture.
- Build security applications such as antivirus, anti-malware, anti-spyware, firewalls, honeypots, etc.
White hat hackers are mostly analysts and scientists who want to learn different cyber challenges better and teach people about them. In order to prepare contingency plans to prepare for cyber threats and other worst-case situations, businesses and policymakers usually employ them as consultants and practitioners. White hat hackers also assist enterprises to conform with safety laws outlined in security and privacy-focused regulations such as HIPAA, PCI DSS, GDPR, etc.
White hat hackers maintain their operations fit into the legal system, unlike other kinds of hackers. And this point separates them from the red hat hackers we’ll talk about in the article below.
Grey Hat Hacker
Grey hats are second on our list of the numerous styles of hackers. Somewhere between the white hat and black hat hackers, these hackers break. The motives of Grey Hat hackers are always good, but with their hacking methods, they do not often follow the ethical path. For instance, without your permission, they will access your website, programme, or IT systems to check for vulnerabilities. But usually, they’re not trying to do any harm.
Grey hat hackers draw the attention of the owner to the bugs that remain. On company/government servers and blogs, they also launch the same form of cyber-attacks as white hats. The security loopholes are revealed by these attacks but do not cause any harm. However, again, without the approval or consent of the owner, they do this. Hackers of Grey Hat often charge a premium for:
- Address bugs or flaws,
- strengthen the security protections of the enterprise, or
- include threat fix tips, fixes, or tools.
After they are patched, some grey hat hackers leak details on vulnerabilities throughout the public. But in many situations, they first reach out to the firms affected to let them know about the vulnerabilities. If an organisation may not respond or act fast enough, even if the bug has not been patched, the hacker can opt to publicly reveal the data.
In the data security world, Grey hats do this to obtain credibility and appreciation, which implicitly allows them to develop their careers as security professionals. This move, however, hurts the credibility of the organisations whose security flaws or exploits they publicly reveal.
Security researcher Anurag Sen and his Safety Detectives unit, for example, are looking for leaky databases and data breach events and catching the attention of responsible authorities before disclosing those information to the public domain. They are accountable for exposing bigfooty.com, Avon, Natura & Co, RailYatri, and several more to leaky databases.
Red Hat Hacker
Red hat hackers, much as white hat hackers, just try to save the planet from malicious hackers. But to fulfil their aims, they prefer drastic and often illegal paths.
Red hat hackers are like the cybersecurity field’s pseudo-Robin Hood, they take the wrong direction to do the right thing. They deploy risky cyber threats against them when they detect a black hat hacker.
To do this, Red hat hackers use all forms of techniques, including:
- Infecting the networks of poor hackers with malware,
- Launching attacks with DDoS,
- To demolish it by using software to obtain remote access to the hacker’s computer.
In short, the types of hackers who often want to take offensive action to deter black hat hackers are red hats. It is understood that they conduct full-scale attacks to bring down the computers of the bad guys and kill their wealth.
Blue Hat Hacker
Within the cybersecurity sector, two separate concepts prevail, and they have little to nothing in common. Now we’ll be exploring all of them.
Blue Hat Hacker Definition 1: Revenge Seekers
Money or fame may not really matter to these hackers. They hack to take personal revenge from an individual, employer, organisation, or government for an actual or perceived sleight. Blue hat hackers use ransomware to deploy different cyber attacks on the servers/networks of their enemies to damage their files, websites, or computers.
Blue hat hackers often use different hacking methods to circumvent security protocols in order to obtain unauthorised access to email clients or social media accounts of their targets. This gives them the opportunity to send emails from certain accounts and post inappropriate comments to take vengeance.
Occasionally, to destroy their reputations, they indulge in doxxing and publish personal and private details of their nemeses on public channels. Often, ex-employees break into the computers of corporations or steal the sensitive data of their clients and leak it to the public only to destroy the reputations of their previous employers.
Blue Hat Hacker Definition 2: Outside Security Professionals
Blue hat hackers are security experts working independently of the business. Companies also invite them before launching it to validate the new programme and discover security bugs. In order to locate the vulnerabilities in their critical online applications, corporations often arrange annual conferences with blue hat hackers.
Blue hat hackers conduct penetration testing without causing harm, and deploy different cyber attacks. To validate its Windows applications, Microsoft also organises such invite-only conferences. That’s why Microsoft hackers refer to certain coloured hats as blue hats.
Green Hat Hacker
In the world of hacking, these are the ‘newbies’. Green hat hackers are not knowledgeable of the web’s security system and inner workings, but they are keen learners and determined to lift their place in the hacker world (and even desperate). While their purpose is not generally to deliberately inflict damage, when “playing” with different malware and attack strategies, they may do so.
As a result, hackers with green hats may often be dangerous because they are often ignorant of the implications of their acts or, most of all, how to repair them.
Green Hat Hackers vs Script Kiddies
There is another sort of hacker, known as “template kiddies,” that is identical to a green hat hacker. Script kiddies are also novice hackers, but they are merely involved in uploading or purchasing viruses, tools, and scripts online and using them instead of learning new hacking methods and programming. The primary distinction between green hats and kiddie script is that the former is very professional and hard-working, with a strong vision to develop their talents. In the other hand, the latter is only involved in hacking using pre-existing scripts and passwords.
Green hat hackers also follow the right educational direction, receive qualifications, and take hacking training courses for skill development. Script kiddies, though, simply find shortcuts, such as streaming videos from YouTube or reading any news posts or web conversations. Basically, without having full understanding of the implications, they like to execute hacks and cyber threats.
Wrapping Up on the Different Types of Hackers
You must have a good understanding by now that not all hackers are alike. Sure, some hackers are bad guys (and gals) who target other individuals and companies with their technological expertise. Yet there are also other types of hackers that work to protect us from those malicious hackers day and night. Any hackers also use an offensive strategy to kill the infamous black hat hackers to some extent.