The 6 types of hackers you should know about

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To keep your personal information safe, you need to stay up to date and find out about cyberattacks. But what about the people behind these attacks? Hackers are often grouped together, but there are many different types.

You’ve heard of all the common colored hat hackers: white, black, gray, or whatever else they’re wearing. But you need to know what threats they actually pose. Who are these hackers?

1. Nation-state hackers: The notorious cyber criminals

These are cyber criminals supported by the government of a state. You must have heard of the Solarwinds attacks; those that caused a massive network breach and enabled hackers to expose thousands of organizations worldwide, including parts of the US government.

Related: What Is the SolarWinds Attack? Was I concerned?

Cybersecurity experts and US intelligence agencies categorically blamed Russia for the cyber attack. The hackers attached their malware to SolarWinds, a company that makes the IT performance monitoring platform called Orion. Thousands of companies around the world are using this software and all of them received corrupt software from March to June 2020.

The Russian foreign intelligence service is said to have carried out these attacks. But that’s not all. There are also groups of hackers who are believed to have links with the North Korean and Iranian governments.

2. The corporate spies: business plan stealers

Hacker dark anonymous

Corporate spies are hackers who engage in corporate espionage in order to steal all kinds of important company data like business plans, corporate patents, financial data, contracts, and more.

One of the most popular corporate spy cases is Compulife – NAAIP. In 2020, Compulife Software, Inc. alleged that one of its competitors hacked into the company’s system and stole its proprietary data. Evidence confirmed that NAAIP actually hired a hacker to conduct corporate espionage.

In the end, the lower court decided that there was no criminal offense. But the Eleven Circuit Court disagreed and overturned the decision.

If you own a business of any size, you should get business insurance with a policy to protect your data.

3. Cryptojacker: The two-headed threats

Cryptojacking

Image source: Artem Oleshko / Shutterstock.

Cryptojackers steal users’ computing power and resources in order to mine cryptocurrencies. In 2019, McAfee reported a 4,000 percent increase in crypto-mining malware. It’s scary because they go from compromising individual user’s PCs and mobile devices to infiltrating popular websites and spreading the malware to everyone who visits them.

One of the most notable cryptojackers, Smominru, is made up of over 520,000 machines that have helped its owners make over $ 3 million in a single year. This cryptojacking botnet was used in the 2017 WannaCry ransomware worldwide epidemic.

Related: What Is Cryptojacking And How To Identify It

The question now arises as to how to protect yourself from such hackers. Here are some tips:

  • Always watch out for changes in the behavior of your device.

  • Use only known and trustworthy plug-ins, apps and add-ons.

  • Before downloading an application, make sure that it has been well reviewed, is updated regularly, and has enough downloads.

4. Hacktivists: Tech-era activists

These are the ones who use hacking to make a statement – politically or socially. These cyber criminals do not necessarily act to make money, but rather to offer resistance and question or provoke the government.

A popular example of a hacktivist attack is Operation Tunisia in 2010, when a group of Tunisian hackers launched DDoS attacks on eight government websites in support of the Arab Spring movements.

If you are not affiliated with the government then you don’t need to worry about these hackers.

5. Script kiddies: Unskilled amateurs or dangerous hackers

Hacker kid

These hackers are the amateurs who hack mainly for thrill-seekers. But don’t take them lightly.

We all remember the string of cyberattacks that forced hundreds of websites to go offline on a Friday in 2016. It is believed that “script kiddies” were behind the massive hack that overran Amazon, Twitter and Reddit.

Experts also say that script kiddies often unwittingly help serious criminals through their reckless probing and system compromises. How to protect yourself from them:

  • Update your security software regularly.

  • Track your website traffic regularly.

  • Do not use dummy passwords.

6. Hacking Groups for Hire: They hit you hard

There are many notorious hacking groups around the world that are available for hire. These groups usually follow the Ransomware-as-a-Service (RaaS) model, in which they lease ransomware in the same way that software developers lease SaaS products.

One such group that made headlines is the Darkside ransomware group. The hackers attacked the Colonial Pipeline, an American oil pipeline system that transported kerosene and gasoline across the United States. The cyber attack affected all device management in the pipeline, causing a loss of over $ 15 billion.

Related: DarkSide Ransomware: Who Was Behind the Colonial Pipeline Attack?

The only way to protect yourself from such hackers is to make sure that your backup data is offline and safe.

Protect yourself from hackers

Hacking can massively disrupt our everyday work.

As a result, businesses and individuals need to regularly update all of their software, operating systems, applications, and websites to mitigate cyber threats. Understanding the different types of hackers and their motivations is also a great way to keep cyber criminals at bay.


Man wearing a skull mask using a computer
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