Helpful Hackers? Quick guide to Hacker Hat Colors

July 6th, 2022 by admin

A graphic with three hackers wearing different color hats infront of laptops, with the color of their hats specified above the: (from left to right) Black, Gray, White.

When you think of a hacker, you probably picture a malicious criminal using the internet to harm or steal your sensitive information. While this type of hacker certainly exists not all hackers fit this profile. Many hackers are not using their computer skills for evil; in fact, many hackers make the virtual world a much safer place.

There are three categories of hackers: Black hat, white hat, and gray hat.

Black Hat Hacker

A black hat hacker is the stereotypical hacker that violates the law and accesses private information for personal gain. Hackers seek to benefit financially from your stolen credit card information or to sell other information on the black market to identity thieves. They may even wreak havoc on computer users out of revenge or pure maliciousness. These are virtual villains.

White Hat Hacker

White hat hackers have the same technical super-skills as their black hat counterparts – however, they use these skills for good, ethical, and legal purposes. These hackers are network security specialists who are authorized to test the security system of an organization. They find vulnerabilities that could be exploited by black hat hackers and disclose them privately to the organization so that they can patch up any holes. These white hats are like super-heroes of the computer world; they use their powers for good, not evil, and protect us from villains.

Gray Hat Hacker

Gray hat hackers fit somewhere in between the black and white. They don't necessarily use their technical skills for personal gain or with malicious intent, but they may commit illegal or unethical acts. For example, an individual who occasionally uses hacking to do illegal file-sharing or software cracking would be considered a gray hat hacker. Like white hat hackers, they may use their skills for the greater good but may do so in a questionable way. Instead of being authorized to find vulnerabilities in an organization's system, a gray hat hacker would compromise it without permission (illegally). Rather than privately disclosing any weaknesses, they often do so publically. This gives malign black hat hackers the opportunity to exploit these weaknesses. These vigilantes seem to straddle the line between good and evil.

The good versus evil fight in the virtual world continues each day. Although black hat hackers run rampant, white hat hackers are hard at work making it possible for you to patch your devices and keep the villains out.

Posted in: Protection, Security