Black Hat Hackers
These are the guys people were referencing when the term ‘hacker’ was first coined. Known to many as cyber criminals, these are the people that ‘hacker movies’ are based on. Black-Hat hackers are usually very skilled in programming and hacking and are often the perpetrators of the biggest cyber crimes we see in the news. They are responsible for much of the $2.1 billion in losses by cyber attacks that affect businesses every year.These hackers have advanced knowledge of system networks, Operating Systems, applications and all their potential loopholes. While they write most of the malware for themselves, many of them also create scripts that can be used by script kiddies.These guys are similar to an actual criminal network and are responsible for the larger and more widespread hacks on government installations, businesses etc. A recent example was the ransomware WannaCry. WannaCry was a type of malware that spread to a computer, encrypted its files, and prevented the user from accessing what they needed. For access to be returned to the user, the user had to pay a sum of money via Bitcoin to get a key that would then decrypt his/her files. The sum was to be paid in a certain time frame, after which all the person’s files would be deleted.
White Hat Hackers
As opposed to Black-Hat Hackers, these guys exist on the other end of the spectrum. These are the ‘good guys’ of cyber security. Like black-hat hackers, they’re highly skilled at programming and hacking, but ethics separates a black-hat hacker from a white-hat hacker. White-hat hackers perform their trade with direct permission from their clients to check and test their software or networks for potential breaches.Also known as Ethical Hackers, they usually work for companies that employ cyber security tools to defend others from attacks. Under a legally binding document, ethical hackers try to breach the system of their client and identify vulnerabilities. They then try to patch these vulnerabilities and introduce counter measures to prevent black-hat hackers from breaching the system.A common example to which we can relate is the antivirus program you are probably using on your PC. That antivirus program is a piece of software built by ethical hackers that defends your PC from vulnerabilities. Ethical hackers also test software like Windows and Linux in order to try and find vulnerabilities. These vulnerabilities are then patched in the form of system updates. all of which is done to combat the rising threat of cyber criminals.
Gray Hat Hackers
Like life, not everything can be split into black and white. There is always grey space, and the same is true for hackers. Gray-Hat hackers are not part of companies performing cyber security, nor are they part of the criminally inclined black-hat hackers. These people have great knowledge of hacking and usually put that knowledge to good use, but their means are considered illegal.One common practice of gray-hat hackers is breaching companies without their consent. These folks might breach a company without its consent, but would not misuse the breach to extract any data. They would either contact the company to inform them of the breach or simply do nothing. Companies usually give a certain amount of money as bounties to such individuals as a reward for pointing out their system vulnerabilities.