According to Wikipedia.org, there are several kinds of hackers; some good, some bad, but all using computers and the Internet to ply their “trade.” There are Black hats, White hats, Grey hats, and Script kiddies.
Those in the “hat” category are as you would expect; the Black hats are the bad guys, White hats are good guys, and Grey hats, who are “morally ambiguous” (I think that means they are good and bad, perhaps depending on their mood?). The Script kiddies are hacker neophytes and are less skilled. They are a sort of hacker “wanna-be’s” who are hacking before they’ve developed the proper skills. Here is a further definition for the several flavors of hackers:
Black hats – “A “black hat” hacker is a hacker who “violates computer security for little reason beyond maliciousness or for personal gain” (Moore, 2005). Black hat hackers form the stereotypical, illegal hacking groups often portrayed in popular culture, and are “the epitome of all that the public fears in a computer criminal”. Black hat hackers break into secure networks to destroy data or make the network unusable for those who are authorized to use the network. They choose their targets using a two-pronged process known as the “pre-hacking stage” consisting of 1. targeting and 2. research and information gathering.”
White hats – “A white hat hacker breaks security for non-malicious reasons, perhaps to test their own security system or while working for a security company which makes security software. The term “white hat” in Internet slang refers to an ethical hacker. This classification also includes individuals who perform penetration tests and vulnerability assessments within a contractual agreement. The EC-Council, also known as the International Council of Electronic Commerce Consultants, is one of those organizations that have developed certifications, courseware, classes, and online training covering the diverse arena of Ethical Hacking.”
Grey hats – “A grey hat in the hacking community refers to a skilled hacker whose activities fall somewhere between white and black hat hackers on a variety of spectra. It may relate to whether they sometimes arguably act illegally, though in good will, or to show how they disclose vulnerabilities. They usually do not hack for personal gain or have malicious intentions, but may be prepared to technically commit crimes during the course of their technological exploits in order to achieve better security. Whereas white hat hackers will tend to advise companies of security exploits quietly, grey hat hackers are prone to “advise the hacker community as well as the vendors and then watch the fallout”.
Scrip kiddies – “A script kiddie (or skiddie) is a non-expert who breaks into computer systems by using pre-packaged automated tools written by others, usually with little understanding of the underlying concept—hence the term script (i.e. a prearranged plan or set of activities) kiddie (i.e. kid, child—an individual lacking knowledge and experience, immature).”
In my humble opinion, all four groups are motivated by a need to demonstrate their high level of technical expertise. Only the white hats are satisfying that need legally and for good purposes. It seems the black hats, grey hats, and script kiddies seek the additional excitement of the hunt and the possibility (probability) of being caught.
Be very careful…it’s dangerous out there.
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