Hackers fall into one of three general categories: white hat hackers, black hat hackers and gray hat hackers. But these aren’t the only types of hackers that exist. There are also red hat hackers, green hat hackers, blue hat hackers and more.
Read on to learn more about the types of hackers and what makes them different from one another.
White Hat Hackers
White hat hackers only use their skills for the common good, rather than for malicious purposes. They are also known as ethical hackers. White hat hackers work with organizations to help them identify and fix security vulnerabilities in their systems. With the help of white hat hackers, organizations can patch security vulnerabilities before malicious hackers are able to exploit them.
Example of white hat hacking
One example of white hat hacking is penetration tests. Penetration tests, also known as pen tests or ethical hacking, are when hackers conduct an authorized, simulated cyber attack on an organization’s systems. This type of test allows organizations to evaluate the security of their systems as well as the organization’s response to it, and fix any vulnerabilities that are found.
Black Hat Hackers
Black hat hackers are malicious and what most people think of when it comes to hackers. These hackers are also referred to as cybercriminals or threat actors. Black hat hackers work to exploit vulnerabilities in systems, networks and accounts so they can steal data, install malicious software or disrupt the operation of individuals and organizations. Black hat hackers are motivated by financial gain. However, some black hat hackers may also be seeking revenge, motivated by their ideology, or be conducting espionage or attacks on behalf of a nation-state.
Examples of black hat hacking
Here are some examples of black hat hacking.
DDoS attacks: Distributed Denial-of-Service (DDoS) is a type of cyber attack that disrupts the normal traffic of a server. Black hat hackers do this by overwhelming the server using bots so there is a flood of internet traffic. This causes the server to slow down or crash completely. Black hat hackers will often request a large amount of money, also known as ransom, in order to stop the attack.
Data breaches: A data breach is when a black hat hacker breaks into an account or system and steals sensitive data. Stolen data can include Personally Identifiable Information (PII) such as Social Security numbers and home addresses.
Malware: Malware is a type of malicious software that black hat hackers install onto a device or system. When malware is successfully installed it can be used to spy on your activity, log your keystrokes, gain access to your device’s camera and microphone, and steal sensitive information you have stored on your device.
Gray Hat Hackers
Gray hat hackers fall between white hat hackers and black hat hackers, meaning they may occasionally use their hacking skills for good and may also use them maliciously. Gray hat hackers are motivated by their desire to improve security, but also their desire to expose security vulnerabilities.
Examples of gray hat hacking
Some examples of gray hat hacking include the following:
Reporting security vulnerabilities: Gray hat hackers will look for security vulnerabilities within an organization and offer to report them for a price. Once the organization pays the gray hat hacker, they’ll let the organization know where and what the security vulnerability is.
Helping individuals: Some gray hat hackers will use their skills to help individuals who have been a victim of a cyber attack. For example, they’ll help them recover their data or help them remove malware from their device.
Other Types of Hackers You Should Know About
Here are a few more types of hackers.
Red hat hackers
Red hat hackers use their skills to help organizations and individuals fight cybercrime. They are often fighting against black hat hackers and will even launch cyber attacks against them to expose their data and activities to the public. Red hat hackers are known as vigilantes in the cybersecurity community.
Green hat hackers
Green hat hackers are still learning how to hack. They are not as skilled as other types of hackers but are eager to learn more. Green hat hackers play an important role in bringing new perspectives to the cybersecurity community, more specifically the hacking community.
Blue hat hackers
Blue hat hackers are hired by organizations to help identify security vulnerabilities in their systems. Blue hat hackers are similar to white hat hackers in that they use their hacking skills to help improve the cybersecurity infrastructure of an organization.
How Can I Protect Myself From Malicious Hackers?
Here are some cybersecurity best practices you should follow to protect yourself from malicious hackers.
Use strong, unique passwords
Malicious hackers take advantage of individuals who use weak and common passwords. To avoid hackers being able to easily crack your passwords, you should be using strong, unique passwords for each of your accounts. Creating strong passwords on your own is a difficult task, so we recommend using a password manager to help you create and manage them all in one place. The only password you’ll need to remember is your master password.
Enable MFA on your accounts
Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA) is additional verification you can add to your accounts. Enabling it prevents anyone but you from being able to access your accounts because it requires that you verify who you are through at least one additional verification method. Some common MFA methods include SMS text codes, authenticator apps and hardware security keys. Even if a malicious hacker somehow knows your password, MFA would prevent them from being able to log into your account.
Keep your software up-to-date
Software updates aren’t just for new features; they are also very important for patching up security flaws on your software and devices. Malicious hackers take advantage of those whose devices and software aren’t updated because it becomes easier for them to infiltrate them with malware. Whenever a new update becomes available, don’t ignore it and install it right away.
Stay Protected From Black Hat Hackers
While not all hackers are bad, there are some hackers with malicious intent such as black hat hackers. To keep yourself protected from them, make sure you’re following cybersecurity best practices and keeping up to date with all the latest cybersecurity news.
To start strengthening your accounts and protect them from malicious hackers, start a free 30-day trial of Keeper Password Manager.