Published: August 30, 2022
When we hear the word “hacker,” bad things come to mind, but are all hackers bad? The answer is either a yes or a no. There are many different types of hackers, and it’s almost unfair to put them all in the same box.
This guide will look at each type and what they hack!
Let’s dig in!
Main Categories of Hackers
This section will examine the black hat, white hat hackers, and more. The choice of colors of hats for the names of hackers originated from the early western films when the bad guys wore black hats while the good guys wore white.
Black Hat Hackers
Black hat hackers are those who hack with malicious intent. They usually access computers, networks, apps, or software to release malware that can steal personal information, destroy files, delete data, or hold computers hostage.
It is why cybersecurity is crucial these days. In addition, this type of hacker tends to work alone or for organized crime. They are rarely related to governments, but it’s not unheard of.
All types of hackers have a motive behind their hack, and most black hat hackers have profit as a motive. So, they do their jobs hoping to get a ransom or sell personal information on the black market.
Here are some things that a black hat hacker does:
- Execute financial fraud;
- Blackmail victims with spyware and ransomware;
- Corporate and political espionage;
- Deploy cyberattacks;
- Send phishing emails and SMS scams;
- Write, sell, and distribute malware;
- Sell information on the Dark Web.
White Hat Hackers
If black is bad, good is white in this division. White hat hackers (also known as “ethical hackers“) are authorized to hack a system.
These types of hackers usually have extensive knowledge of cybersecurity and cloud computing. So, organizations hire them to try to hack their systems since cyberattacks happen every 39 seconds, as statistics show.
White hat hackers hack governments’ and organizations’ systems to find the security holes that the system may have. This way, these organizations know how safe their systems are and make upgrades when necessary.
White hat hackers are licensed and follow the rules set out by the government or company that hires them.
Here are some things that a white hat hacker does:
- Find vulnerabilities in a system;
- Fix vulnerabilities in a system;
- Strengthen security with antivirus.
Green Hat Hackers
Another color of hackers, and these are newbies! These are those who don’t have the skills required to be full-blown hackers yet, but they are learning the ropes of the trade.
So, this type of hacker wouldn’t be familiar with all the security mechanisms a black or white hat hacker would know.
While white and black hat hackers have motives, green hat hackers usually don’t have a motive. So, as they learn more, they may become other kinds of hackers.
Gray Hat Hackers
The world is not all black and white, and neither are hackers! These are not certified by a company or a government, but they don’t necessarily want to cause any harm. So, their motives could be either good or bad.
The motive is what makes a hack a good or a bad hack, and with gray hackers, this is often hard to pinpoint.
The general idea is that these hackers just enjoy the experience of finding loopholes without wanting to harm. So, they may decide to hack a system to find vulnerabilities without being licensed to do so.
And these are what these sorts of hackers do:
- Give recommendations and solutions;
- Find bugs and vulnerabilities;
- Strengthen security.
Blue Hat Hackers
These hackers look to gain popularity through their hacks. So, they have enemies – hacking is how they exact revenge.
They aren’t necessarily dangerous, but their intentions can make them one.
It is important to note that we recognize two types of blue hat hackers.
Bluehat (as one word)
In this sense, the hackers are outside professionals a company invites to test new software or systems and find bugs and vulnerabilities.
Microsoft often organizes invite-only conferences for hackers that would explore the vulnerabilities in their new Windows programs.
Through malware and cyberattacks, these hackers look for revenge. Doxxing and phishing scams are just some of the techniques they may use against an enemy, whether that be a person, an institution, a company, or more.
Red Hat Hackers
Red hat hackers are called the “Robin Hoods” of the hacking world because they go to extreme lengths to prevent black hat hackers from accessing a system or a network and causing trouble.
When they come in possession of stolen data, they usually give it back to the owners rather than keep it for themselves and make themselves rich in this way.
Yellow Hat Hackers
More popularly known as social media hackers, as the name implies, are focused on social media. They use various hacking techniques on social media accounts, such as Facebook, which has roughly 2.8 billion daily active users, and Twitter which has over 9.2 million daily active users.
The intentions behind this type of hacker are malicious, similar to the black hat hacker.
Other Kinds of Hackers
Don’t be surprised if there are more categories of hackers besides those above. Here, we’ll look at the hacker types that are not color-named but are hackers just the same.
Script kiddies are hacker enthusiasts that still don’t have the required knowledge to be full hackers, but they can be harmful because of their lack of knowledge.
The name comes from the fact that they’re amateurs, mostly juveniles, that use other hackers’ scripts to hack systems, networks, or software. The sole motive is to get attention for their work from fellow hackers.
These are hackers that the government hires to hack other nations and gain information. The idea is to hack countries that may harm a nation’s safety to be ready to protect the country.
These hackers report only to their governments, and the information is strictly confidential. For example, Russian hackers allegedly hacked Viasat during the Ukraine invasion. In such events, the nation is accused of hiring hackers.
As the name suggests, they are those that hack government websites. Hacktivists use the data they gather for personal gain or even publicly release the information. These hackers often work in groups, too.
Some hackers use their skill set to target a particular business or sector of a rival nation. These attacks tend to be politically motivated.
The FBI considers cyberterrorism attacks a different threat level than a typical virus or computer hack.
Whistleblowers are employees and former employees who leak stolen data from within the organization they worked in, typically due to a grudge against it. They do this to expose activity that is considered illegal, immoral, or questionable.
Some famous US whistleblowers include Edward Snowden, Chelsea Manning, Linda Tripp, and Joshua Harman.
Employees with Malicious Intents
Some types of hackers and viruses are just employees threatening a company. An angry or former disgruntled employee with access to databases can often be a considerable threat.
For example, they may use their access to transfer company funds to their accounts or install devices on computers to watch fellow employees.
It is safe to say that there isn’t just one type of hacker, so it is not wise to put them all in the same basket. Some hackers do it to learn; others have bad intentions, while organizations just hire some in an attempt to strengthen their systems.
We hope this guide will help you identify any potential threat that may be due to their activities or perhaps use this information to hire someone to help you manage your risk.
How to stop hackers?
You can never be 100% protected from hackers, but there are ways to be safe. You should use multi-factor authentication to make sure that you access your accounts. Using one of the best password managers today is also an excellent way to stay protected.
You can update your passwords often and make sure not to use the same password for different accounts.
And with websites, it’s always wise to back up the site and keep it secure.
What is an illegal hacker called?
An illegal hacker is usually called a black hat hacker, violating the security guidelines of the app, site, network, or system they’re hacking.
What are the 7 types of hackers?
We’ve named more than seven times of hackers, and these are the most popular: black hat hackers, white hat hackers, blue hat hackers, yellow hat hackers, green hat hackers, gray hat hackers, cyber-terrorists, hacktivists, script kiddies, and more.