What are White Hat, Black Hat, and Gray Hat Hackers?
Computers and the internet have transformed the world’s work environment. They have taken over large swathes of our lives. All our data has been transferred from ledgers and records to computers. This shift in work has helped reduce the physical workload of workers, but it also increases the risk of data theft. Hackers are people who know how to steal data and harm the systems. There are many types of hackers. Let’s look at the different types of hackers and how they attack and use their techniques.
In this article, we will cover the following topics:
What is a White Hat Hacker?
White Hat Hackers are hired to hack into computers networks to find loopholes and flaws in cybersecurity systems that other hackers could misuse.
Simulated cyberattacks are used to simulate the behavior of a malicious hacker. All vulnerabilities are then identified and fixed.
This is what White Hat Hackers should do when organizations hire them:
- Identify potential threats from Open Ports
- Open ports are a way for hackers to gain access to your system. White Hat Hackers can recommend security measures against this by scanning these ports using third-party tools.
- Analyse Patch Installation
- Threat actors easily exploit patch installations. To minimize threat, the white hats scrutinize them.
- Use social engineering
- To collect certain information, they often use social engineering techniques. They identify possible hacker steps to gain access to your system and then protect you from them.
- Assess honeypots and firewall systems
- White-hat hackers can also find weaknesses in honeypot systems that you have already created. They seek ways to bypass firewalls, IDS, and IPS or honeypots to put in measures to stop others from doing so.
- Defend networks
- They will try to identify security loopholes in your network by network sniffing and hijacking your web servers.
How to become a White Hat Hacker?
To become a White Hat Hacker, you need to have a certain set of skills. Certifications can additionally support these. A certificate could be obtained from the EC Council or similar institutions. All that matters is your ability and the effort you put into your work.
While a degree in IT is helpful for White Hat Hacker training, it’s not necessary. You can also earn shorter certificates and diplomas to give you the skills and training you need to hack.
Computer Science, Information Security, and Maths are all fields that can give you an advantage in becoming a white-hat hacker.
Some organizations prefer to hire military veterans, particularly in the intelligence section. This could be due to military personnel already holding security clearances.
Famous White Hat Hackers
- Tim Berners-Lee, the brilliant hacker and inventor who introduced URLs, HTML, and HTTP, was banned from using Oxford’s computer facilities after being caught hacking into the system. He used his skills to create amazing, life-changing things like the World Wide Web.
- Steve Wozniak was one of Apple’s founding partners and worked closely with Steve Jobs since the company’s inception. Jobs and Wozniak developed the famous ‘blue boxes,’ which allowed users to hack into phones and make long-distance calls for free. Both of them went on to do amazing things after college.
- Kevin Mitnick began his career as a black-hat hacker. He hacked into the most influential companies in the world. After getting into legal trouble, he spent several years in prison. He then left black hat hacking to become a consultant. He wrote several books about hacking in the future.
What is a Black Hat Hacker?
Black hat hackers are bad folks who use their technical skills and knowledge to defraud or blackmail others. They often have the knowledge and expertise to hack into computers without their owners’ permission, exploit security holes, and bypass security protocols.
They are willing to engage in illegal activities, such as:
- Phishing emails and SMS messages.
- Writing and selling malware such as trojan horses, worms, and viruses.
- Using cyberattacks such as distributed denial-of-service (DDoS), to slow down websites or crash them.
- Making money by spying on corporations and politicians.
- Exploiting software vulnerabilities and leaky databases.
- Selling financial or personally identifiable information via the Dark Web.
- Using financial fraud to commit identity theft.
- Using cyber threats such as brute force attacks, scareware, botnets, man-in-the-middle attacks, malware campaigns, etc.
- Ransomware and spyware are used to blackmail victims and encrypt, lock and steal your data. Black hat hackers often demand money in exchange for access to files, systems, databases, or the entire system. Blackmailers can also threaten victims with revealing their private data, business documents, photos, videos, and other sensitive information to the public if it isn’t paid.
Popular methods used by Black Hat Hackers
Cybercriminals are constantly evolving their methods. They often target personal information, such as credit card details and email addresses, aiming for user credentials.
Black Hat Hacking aims to steal business data and take down websites.
The most popular methods used are:
- Brute force
- DoS/DDoS Attacks
- Viruses, Trojans
- Bait and Switch Attacks
Famous Black Hat Hackers
- Gary McKinnon, one of the most well-known black hat hackers. He was accused of being responsible for the largest military computer hack ever. He broke into the computers of NASA and the U.S. Armed Forces. He wiped out all their important files, including weapon logs, in less than a day. The damage McKinnon caused is estimated at $700,000. Because the U.K. prevented his extradition, he was not held in prison.
- Jeanson James Ancheta, a Californian hacker, used a virus “rxbot”, to overtake 500,000 computers, many of which belonged to the U.S. Military. He had a botnet army and advertised his services, claiming he could take down any site for a fee. He was eventually sentenced to 5 years in prison.
What is a Gray Hat Hacker?
Next on the list are gray hats. These hackers are somewhere in between black and white hat hackers. Although they may have good intentions, grey hat hackers don’t always follow the ethical path with their hacking techniques. They may also hack into your application or website to find vulnerabilities. They don’t usually try to do any harm.
Gray Hat Hackers bring the owner’s attention to the vulnerabilities. Many of them launch cyber-attacks similar to white hats against websites and government servers. These attacks expose security flaws, but they don’t cause any harm. They do it without permission or knowledge of the owner. Gray Hat Hackers may charge fees to:
- Repair bugs and vulnerabilities
- Strengthen your organization’s security defenses or
- Offer solutions or recommendations to fix vulnerabilities.
Gray Hat Hackers may release information about vulnerabilities to the public after they have been patched. In many cases, hackers reach out to affected companies to inform them about vulnerabilities. The hacker might decide to make the information public if a company fails to respond quickly or take action promptly.
What are some other types of Hackers?
There are four other types of hackers in the Cybersecurity world:
1) Script Kiddies
Hackers called the Script Kiddies are amateur hackers. They use scripts that they have received from fellow hackers to hack the system. They attempt to hack systems, networks, and websites. Hacking is done to attract attention from their peers. Script Kiddies are young people who don’t have a complete understanding of hacking.
Motivations & Aims The most common Kiddie Script attack is either a DoS (Denial of Service) or DDoS (Distributed denial of Service). This is simply an attack on an IP address that has been flooded by too much traffic, and it crashes. Take, for example, several Black Friday shopping sites. It can cause confusion and make it difficult for others to use the service.
2) Green Hat Hackers
Hackers who are learning hacking techniques are called Green Hat Hackers. Due to their intent, they are slightly different than the Script Kiddies. They want to learn and strive to be full-fledged hackers. They seek out mentorship from more experienced hackers.
3) Blue Hat Hackers
Blue Hat Hackers are hackers that look like Script Kiddies. It is not clear that they are trying to learn. Hackers use hacking to make themselves popular among their peers. They hack to settle their differences with their enemies.
4) Red Hat Hackers
Red Hat Hackers can be synonymous with Eagle-Eyed Hackers. These hackers are similar to white hackers. Red hat hackers are determined to stop black hat hackers from attacking. Red hat hackers are different from white hat hackers in hacking through intent. While dealing with black-hat hackers and counteracting malware, red-hat hackers can be pretty brutal. Red hat hackers will continue to attack and could end up replacing the entire system.
Everything, from medical devices to microwaves, is now online. Cyberattacks are a severe threat to both corporations and nations in an increasingly connected world. This means that ethical hackers will continue to be in high demand as governments and organizations scramble to protect their systems from new attacks.
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