Hackers are often portrayed as bad and all the same in the media. However, there are many different types of hackers. Some are bad, some are good, some fall between the good and the bad. The type of hat the hacker chooses to wear is how they are classified either “bad or good”. Quite literally, the way the different types of hackers are categorized are by different color hats.
Here are the seven different hats hackers wear:
Also known as crackers or dark-side hackers, these are the villains of the hacker world. When you think “hacker” these are the hackers you are most likely thinking of. They tend to break into computers and networks and are also known for creating computer viruses.
White hat hackers are the “good guys” of the hacking world. These are people who help protect computer networks. Frequently you will find prior black hat hackers turn to white hat hackers. The drive to convert these hackers? A good steady paycheck. White hat hackers often perform penetration testing, by attempting to hack their company’s system with the intent of making it more secure.
Gray hat hackers are exactly like they sound, a mix of black and white. They never hack for their personal gain, but they never ask permission prior to hacking. They will hack a system and then alert the company about their security holes. The major differences between gray hat hackers and black hat is that even though they are hacking without permission, they will never benefit from the hack. On the other hand, because they are hacking without permission, they are not considered white hat since what they are doing is illegal.
Green hat hackers are the newest bunch of the group – they are beginner hackers! They write mostly script and have the desire to become a full-blown hacker eventually. Due to their newness to the field and their desire to become hackers, you will find green hat hackers asking a lot of questions as they begin to learn and grow.
Red hat hackers are somewhat like white hat hackers but approach issues differently. Red hat hackers will destroy a black hat hacker by attacking the computer the black hat using to hack, uploading viruses to destroy the computer from the inside out. Businesses do not have to worry about these types of hackers as their focus is solely on destroying the bad guys.
Script kiddies are more of a subcategory than the rest. A script kiddie can be a black, white or gray hat hacker while still considered a script kiddie. Playing off the term “kiddie,” these hackers are those that lack the expertise of the others. They generally use existing computer scripts or code to hack computers. There is an assumption or stigma that these script kiddies are younger, perhaps teenagers who are simply trying to impress their friends with their new-found skills of hacking.
Another subcategory is hacktivists. Hacktivists are hackers who are social activists. They hack for the sole reason of fighting for a cause and hack as a different form of protest. They will hack for a cause, usually political or social, and attempt to make a statement in the meantime.
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