When the word hacker or hacking is mentioned, a universal definition pops into mind. A hacker is known to be a cybercriminal who inflicts chaos on their victims by breaching, stealing, or damaging online systems and data. This is just one part of what the word hacking withholds. And contrary to popular belief, hacking is a broad and diversified category that is misunderstood.  

The dependency on storing data electronically, as computers have taken over a large part of our life, results in the increased risk of data theft and becoming suspectable to hacking accidents. So, learning more about the hacking industry and how they operate is crucial to protecting your business, especially with hackers launching attacks every 39 seconds. A simple starting point would be to learn the several types of hackers out there, to the surprise of many there is not only an “evil” hacker but there are also other types of hackers ranging from their intentions and techniques.   

 

What are the 6 colors of hacker hats?   

 

– Black Hat: 

The first color of a hacker hat is black, and they are the most familiarly known to people. black hat hackers are those who are knowledgeable in the cybersecurity industry and use it to their advantage. They are cybercriminals because they access systems and data unauthorizedly with ill intentions to damage or steal either for personal satisfaction or to sell it on the dark web.  

These hackers are always looking for vulnerabilities unidentified by the organization so they could take advantage of them. And around 300,000 new versions of malware are being created daily for these purposes. The financial toll these attacks have caused cost the world $600 billion in 2018 and is predicted to rise in numbers this year. More and more cybercrime groups are emerging and following the steps of notorious groups such as Lapsus$, Anonymous, and REvil. These groups have successfully breached and stolen data from many known companies that claim to have a secure cyber system, but 73% of black hat hackers claim that “traditional firewall and antivirus security is irreverent or obsolete” and 80% said that humans are their gateway to systems due to their repetitive mistakes.  

 

– White Hat: 

Next, are white hat hackers who contrast black hats. Just like in American western movies, black hats represent the villains and white hats represent the heroes. White hat hackers use their knowledge in cybersecurity for different purposes. They are professionals who are paid to breach and hack a company’s system to assess their organization’s level of cybersecurity and, as a result, discover and correct weak points to avoid attacks from external threats. 

They are ethical hackers who oversee protecting the company’s systems from Black hat hackers. In 2018 white hats made up to $19 million in commission for helping organizations discover vulnerabilities in their systems (The 2019 Hacker report by Hackerone). And with an alarming number of 62%, many businesses are ill-equipped to protect themselves from any cyber threats (IBM Cost of a Data Breach Report 2021). This will only damage the company and cost them up to millions of dollars to revive their systems. 

 

– Grey Hat:

The next color falls between black and white. Grey hat hackers don’t fall in a specified category in terms if they are villains or heroes, they share the same technical skills, but their intentions vary. These types of hackers don’t have ill intentions such as black hats, they do exploit vulnerabilities but not with the end goal of destructing the system, but due to their fascination with the hacking world and the desire to improve their skills. Nonetheless, they are significantly different than white hats due to them illegally finding loopholes and weak points in systems for their own satisfaction. Globally, around 4.6% of cyber security professionals have taken on the role of a grey hat hacker while on the job, and 41% know one. These numbers prove the existence of such hackers and how all hacker’s intentions differ from each other.   

 

– Blue Hat:

The fourth hat color is Blue. These types of hackers separate in to two, first are those who use their limited hacking skills for revenge. Their objective is to shut down a specific target for vengeance and then stop after achieving it. Unlike black hatters, they don’t continuously launch attacks since they are not doing so for financial gain, only to gain favorability. 

Second, are those who are scouted by companies to be penetration testers on new unreleased systems to look for any vulnerabilities missed. They launch attacks without causing any harm to the systems. Microsoft holds BlueHat conferences where they invite hackers to discuss with Microsoft engineers their current cyber threats and to test out Windows programs.  

 

– Red Hat: 

The following color is a red hat hacker, also known as the vigilantes of the cyber world. They strive with the mission to keep black hat hackers under control by launching targeted attacks on them and destroying their systems and resources. Their approach is aggressive and merciless, and they don’t seek help from officials or report the cybercriminals they find. They believe in their capabilities to reach their objective of stopping them black hat hackers from attacking again. 

 

– Green Hat: 

Lastly, are green hat hackers. They are wannabe black hats. While they do lack the set of skills and experiences as black hat hackers, they still are a threat as they are learning to strive in this industry. They are typically known as those who want to be acknowledged for their skills which is why they attack businesses with limited security. These green hat hackers are black hats in the making.  

 

 

In conclusion: 

For many people, a hacker is a person who intrudes systems unauthorizedly and steals confidential information or destroys them. But now this has changed. There are different hat colors for the different intentions of hackers. At first, it was black and white but now the colors have diversified. And understanding the several types of hackers, as well as hacker hat colors, is essential for cybersecurity professionals and security departments as hacking and hackers are undoubtedly the most significant threat for any company. 

 

Be up to date with the cybersecurity industry!  

 

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