When you think of a hacker, do you imagine a hooded villain, secretly prying into the lives of unsuspecting victims? Hackers are criminals, right? They are the brilliant masterminds behind stolen identities, disrupted lives, and bankrupted businesses.
What about White Hat Hackers? Or Gray Hat Hackers? The world needs hackers who are on our side.
When you hear the term 'hacker' everybody assumes there's only one kind... the bad kind. There are actually a few different kinds which are determined by their behavior.
Black Hat hackers are the ones people are usually thinking of. These are the bad guys or criminals. They illegally break into networks and devices without permission and with malicious intent for personal gain. They destroy or steal data such as passwords, email, intellectual property, credit cards, bank accounts, and so on, that can be sold for others to use.
We here at Infogressive are White Hat hackers. We're the good guys, also known as ethical hackers. White Hats are often hired by organizations to test their security systems by thinking like a Black Hat and simulating a cyberattack. We attempt to gain access to systems and devices, and report back with how we got in, what damage could have been done, and how to improve security defenses before the bad guys can exploit them. This is also called Penetration Testing.
Grey Hat hackers are somewhere in the middle. They don't have permission to break into devices or networks, so it is illegal, but they're not doing it with malicious intent — they may just want to test their skills. Most of the time, if they do find a vulnerability, they will alert their targets and offer to fix it for a fee. Sometimes, if the target won't fix the issue, the hacker could expose the vulnerability to the public to shame them for not taking care of it. Some argue that Grey Hats only violate the law to research and improve security.