Black Hats, White Hats, Gray Hats -- What’s That?
The word ‘hacker’ doesn’t inherently mean criminal. But, the stereotype has widespread that still makes people think that hackers always have a malicious goal. However, that’s not the case! There’s more to what meets the eye. The term ‘hacker’ means one who gains unauthorized access to computer records. Although, the intention of the hacker has to be considered before terming them ‘good’ or ‘bad.’
The hackers are typically classified into three different types.
Black hat hacker
These are generally referred to as ‘black hats’. Hackers belonging to this category attract most of the media attention. Black hats violate computer security for personal gain such as stealing credit card information, sensitive information, launch DDoS attacks or for pure maliciousness. These hackers fit the widely-held stereotype that they involve in criminal activities for personal gain and attacking others. In addition, black hats may find zero-day vulnerabilities of organizations and sell it to criminal groups for monetary benefits.
White hat hacker
These hackers are exactly the opposite of the black hats. White hats are involved in ethical hacking where hackers are paid to find vulnerabilities of organizational network. Their intentions are good, ethical, and legal purposes in comparison to black hats whose intentions are primarily driven by bad, unethical, and criminal purposes.
Typically, white hackers are hired by legitimate enterprises to test the security of their network. The organization authorizes the white hats to attempt to compromise their systems. Here, the ethical hackers attempt break-ins in order to find vulnerabilities and report it back to the organizations rather than exploiting for achieving personal ambitions.
Gray hat hacker
When the world can’t be categorically classified as black and white, why should the hackers be? Much like the human characters that are the amalgamation of black and white, hackers also have mixed intentions. Such attackers are termed as gray hats. Black hats don’t take permission of an organization before breaching into its network. But, white hats inform the organization before attempting a breach, which when found would be promptly reported to the organization.
However, the gray hats don’t ask for permission before breaking in, but report the flaws to the organization and allow them to fix the loopholes. While the network was not breached with malicious intentions, it is still illegal to break into a network without consent.