The types of hackers and why they hack

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Originally, a hacker was defined as someone who is passionate about computers, whether it’s programming or getting into the guts of a computer to see how it works. In modern times, the term can describe a person attempting to gain unauthorized access to computers with less than honorable intentions, or the person countering the evil intentions. But there is a fairly wide range of hackers and a variety of motivations for hacking.

While some hackers create various types of tools and applications that people can use to secure themselves, others spend time tediously searching for and reporting vulnerabilities and malware. Others still spend their time creating malware and plotting to get other people’s money.

Therefore, a hacker can hack for malicious or favorable purposes, but even a hacker with good intentions can be guided astray. Some hackers have admitted that they hack because of the sense of power over others and the fame or notoriety that can come with a high profile hack. Issues such as low self-esteem, poor impulse control, and problems managing anger can make it difficult to descend into the world of predatory hacking.

In the beginning, most hackers were motivated by curiosity, learning, and challenge. In most cases, there was no malicious intent. However, as technology advanced, opportunities for financial gain emerged from illegal activities, giving rise to criminal hacking businesses run much like any other business.

1 – Script Kiddies & Other Beginners – Script kiddies, or skids for short, are low-skill and typically use code written by others. Script kiddies tend to have little motivation and rarely run their own hacks, preferring to use easy-to-use software. A script kiddie usually doesn’t get beyond doxing and simple DDoS attacks on websites.

Green hat hackers are novice hackers too, but unlike script kiddies, green hats have an urge to become more advanced hackers. Due to their curiosity, they are self-motivated and spend hours learning, practicing and improving their skills.

Blue Hat Hackers are vengeful script kiddies who hack to exact revenge on their enemies.

2 – A black hat hacker is generally a nefarious hacker who hacks for financial gain. Black hats also tend to enjoy the thrill of a challenge, and black hat competition can be fierce. Black hat hackers can engage in a range of hacking activities, including exploiting vulnerabilities, hacking into computers, identity theft, vandalizing systems, leaking sensitive government or business information, or creating malware, including ransomware.

3 – White hat or ethical hackers – Ethical hackers use their skills to help individuals, businesses, and governments. They fight malicious hackers, find vulnerabilities that need patching, find newly released malware, help protect computer networks, and educate people how to stay safe online — just to name a few of the activities white hat hackers are involved in are.

4 – Gray Hat Hacker don’t usually hack for financial reasons, but their intentions can be good or bad. For example, if a gray hat hacker hacks a website, they can tell the website owner the vulnerability that made the hack possible. Or the gray hat could publish the hack in the name of hacktivism.

However, there is a fine line between hacker types, as someone can work as a white hat during the day and engage in black hat activities at night. Script kiddies and white, black, and gray hats can all be found in a hacktivist collective like Anonymous. A black hat may make a living from illegal activities while also engaging in hacktivism, essentially as a hobby. And some black hat hackers are venturing into the ethical hacking arena, as per computer security conventions such as black hat and DEF CONT.

Jeff Moss, also known as The Dark Tangent, opens the Black Hat 20th Anniversary Convention on June 26, 2017 in Mandalay Bay, Las Vegas. – James Welder, YouTube

5 – Hacktivists work to right perceived wrongs in the world. This may include DDoSing the websites of organizations accused of cruelty to animals, terrorist websites, the websites of repressive governments, etc. It may also involve hacking the websites of governments that the hacktivists disagree with in terms of policy. Information leaking, doxing, reporting terrorist accounts on social media, and raising awareness of issues deemed important are also actions taken by hacktivists. For example, hacktivists have historically been vigilant in campaigning against proposed legislation that threatens civil liberties—particularly with regard to the Fourth Amendment. Sometimes online activities are coordinated with on-site protests.

Collateral damage can result from hacktivism as various “operations” are well intentioned but not always well thought out, ending up harming innocent people. Additionally, some hacktivists are driven less by a desire to bring about positive change in the world and more by a quest for fame or jealousy or resentment toward their target. While there are well-documented cases of hacktivism producing positive outcomes, sometimes hacktivism turns into predatory behavior.

the economic times describes this dilemma as follows:

“…a sense of idealism and an overwhelming belief in the power of technology to fix society’s ills is real and drives many young programmers. Hackers tend to have a keen, keen sense of what is right and wrong, and much of their behavior is based on how they interpret what they perceive to be injustice or injustice. This heightened sense of social injustice is one of the underlying traits of many hackers, but it can become predatory.”

Anonymous hacktivists at the One Million Man March in London in 2016. Protesters marched from Trafalgar Square past Whitehall to the Houses of Parliament, waving placards and chanting. Scotland Yard’s website was also hacked. – Daily Mail

6 – National State Hackers Also known as Advanced Persistent Threats (APT) are threats deployed by one government to engage in espionage, social engineering, computer intrusion and/or embedding malware with the aim of obtaining classified information and gaining an advantage over another to provide government.

7 – A malicious insider may be a disgruntled employee, one hired by a competitor to steal the competitor’s trade secrets, or a fired employee who managed to steal confidential company information before being shown the door.

There is currently a significant shortage of hackers or cybersecurity professionals employed by corporations and governments, including the military. This shortage is expected to continue in the future, and companies and governments are trying to fill the gap by engaging elementary school children, offering funding for a degree in a related field, and paying high salaries to attract top talent.

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