Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Classes of Hackers: White Hats, Black Hats and Grey Hats

Today, it is difficult to distinguish between hackers, phreaks, and script kiddies. Therefore, depending on the nature of their activities, hackers are categorised into the following groups:

Ø  White hats
Ø  Black hats
Ø  Grey hats 

White Hats

White hat hackers are those who use their skills and knowledge for good purposes, helping to find new security vulnerabilities and making the vendors of the applications or network administrators aware of the detected vulnerabilities to patch and rectify the security breaches. White hats do not hack systems with any bad intent.

The white hat hackers are also referred as “ethical hackers”. They break the computer systems and secured networks to test their security and stability. They always informed concerned security professionals about the vulnerabilities they have discovered before the security of the system is compromised by the intruders with bad, unethical and criminal intentions.

White hat hackers are generally professional hackers, who work for the organisations and application vendors to test the security and integrity of their products. They have permissions and legal authorities from the organizations and vendors to break their systems to test the security breaches and report them back so that it can be fixed before any type of loss occurs because of such vulnerabilities.

Black Hats

Unlike white hat hackers, black hat hackers engage in their activities with bad intentions. They perform illegal activities, such as destroying data, denying services to legitimate users, and defacing websites.

They are also knows as “cyber criminals”. Black hat hackers identify the security vulnerabilities and loop holes, and exploit them for their financial gain or other benefits. They can steal or destroy crucial information, may share/sell them with others causing losses to the individual or an organisation.

Black hat hackers never share the methods of their hacking experiments and information about the security loop holes with the application vendors or concerned security professionals.

Grey Hats

Grey hat hackers do not believe in categorising hacking activities as either good or bad. They believe that some of the activities that are identified by White hats are harmless.

The grey hat hackers are those who want to prove their skills in hacking either in legal or illegal ways by violating the laws and ethical standards but does not have any malicious intent and never make any personal profits out of the results of hacking. The moment they start making the profits, they become the Black hats hackers.

They do not, after discovering the security loop holes, brings in notice of the organisations and application vendors but offers them to fix and patch it for their service fees. The Grey hat hacking is considered to be illegal since hackers does not have any prior permissions to attack the networks and systems.

The Grey hats differ from White hats in a way that instead of notifying the owner and vendors about the vulnerability of the product security, they made it public.
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