The world is yet again on the verge of disaster due to new terrorist threats towards the global computer network. The government and secret services are powerless, and everything is going to plunge into chaos. The culprit of this disaster is a young computer genius with crazy hacking skills who cunningly hides from the best FBI operatives, easily intruding into the most secure databases.
That’s how modern directors portray hackers in such popular films as “Live Free or Die Hard,” “Who am I,” “Takedown,” “The Matrix,” “Swordfish,” and many other bestsellers supporting this exciting myth. In this article, I’ll dispel this widespread misconception since not every skilled computer expert has malevolent intentions.
You’d be surprised to learn hacking practices are not limited to one criminal direction as described above. The fact is, hackers, like all geniuses, are good and bad, depending on their job specifics and pursued goals. To give you a clear idea of what type of hacker you’re dealing with and what to expect from your interaction, I’ve compiled descriptions of the most widespread hacking specialists.
Black Hat Hackers
I would never deny the stories about hackers who organize severe cyber-crimes, skillfully invade large computer networks, hack databases, make data breaches, and steal money and information from private sources are true.
One of the largest cryptocurrency exchanges in Japan, Coincheck, confirmed a major theft of 58 billion yen ($533 million) in the NEM (XEM) cryptocurrency from their platform. Another large-scale cyber attack was directed against the DAO, a unique investment project, built on the Ethereum network. By exploiting an error in the DAO code, $53 million has disappeared from project accounts. Naturally, we can’t help but recall the case of Kevin Mitnick. While a student, he penetrated the global network of ARPANet, the forerunner of the Internet, and breached the servers of the US Department of Defense, stealing more than $80 million in total.
A combination of bad intentions and сraftiness, are the reasons behind calling these cyber villains black hat hackers. However, don’t think for one hot minute that black hat hackers are only engaged in cases of hacking on a global scale. Common users are the regular victims of black hat hackers’ tricks such as injection, unvalidated redirects, sensitive data exposure, security misconfiguration, and other sly techniques.
You run the risk of being hacked every time you surf the Internet, use different web services, register in new systems, download untrusted files, and make online transactions. Luckily, using strong passwords and visiting valid sites increase your chances of winning in a confrontation with black hat hackers.
White Hat Hackers
This is no joke, Hackers really wear black and white hats (and other colors, too!). However, as you understand from the title, white hat hackers, also known as white hackers, are the good heroes in the hacking world. Тhey work openly and honestly on behalf of a customer after signing a mutually beneficial agreement.
Ethical hacking is considered a decent way of dealing with various cybersecurity issues since white hat hackers are looking for vulnerabilities in the customer’s product with the aim of eliminating them. Any company is able to improve its level of protection and safety by engaging white hat hackers through special bug bounty programs or using the services of appropriate specialists.
Luckily, nowadays there are many opportunities to hire competent white hat hackers, and one of the most reliable providers is Hacken. Hacken recently introduced a bug bounty platform HackenProof which aims to support the links between the blockchain communities and the cybersecurity one. They promote ethical hacking and encourage legitimate research on computer networks and software.
Gray hat hackers
Life is ambiguous. Things are not usually clearly black or white, but intermediate shades of gray. The same is with hackers, who can also be gray. Grayhat hackers do a blend of both black hat and white hat activities. Most frequently, these specialists look for vulnerabilities in a system without the owner’s permission, and, of course, this type of hacking is illegal.
All gray hackers can exploit your vulnerability, but in other cases, thanks to their reputation, they can help protect information systems. Besides, if a gray hat hacker finds an issue, he or she can pass it to the owner, sometimes requesting a small fee for fixing it. In a situation when the owner doesn’t respond positively, gray hat hackers can use blackmailing or post the newly found exploit online across the whole world.
Recently, NapoleonX faced such a threat. The French ICO project was exposed to blackmailing by an unknown hacker who described himself as the one who “worked for several cyber-protection companies.” The hacker claimed that he had found a severe vulnerability in project’s security system, and his job was to find the flaws and to benefit from them.
The hacker culture has a specific name, Script kiddie, for a person who has basic knowledge about computer operating systems, but who doesn’t know how to discover and exploit/patch security holes without the use of tools written by better hackers. It’s assumed they’re too inexperienced to write the own complex programs for hacking; so they have to use someone else’s product. Moreover, being a script kiddie does not gain any recognition among other more skilled hackers.
These guys have many effective and easily downloadable malicious computer programs that can damage computers and networks. Such programs include WinNuke, Snoopy, Sub7, and many other frequently used tools intended for conducting a legal audit of computer security and data stealing.
Wait. Have you heard about Hacktivism stream? It’s a free association of people obsessed with computers and various software programs. They jointly work on one project under one umbrella. The most prominent hacktivists groups are LulzSec and Anonymous. Some members of these groups are experienced hackers, and they no longer act as amateurs.
In the future, individual Hacktivist groups may fall under the control of criminal gangs or work at some level with similar groups. Furthermore, this kind of hacker can use their skills for cyber-terrorism purposes. In most cases, their methods are directed at hindering the organizations’ work and such people pose a direct threat to global cyberspace.
Despite the fact the word hacker may evoke negative emotions, it’s important to remember not all hackers are equal. If we hadn’t had white hat hackers diligently seeking out threats and vulnerabilities, the world would have drowned in fraud attacks and lies because there are more cunning types of hackers than we can count.
Obviously, every web user should know about the unsavory people on the Internet. Understanding of typical hacker attacks and scams helps you feel more confident and calm while using the global network. These guys can steal all your valuable information in ways no cybersecurity techniques can protect you. Next time you hear a hacker stole millions of dollars or crashed a city’s traffic lights, I want you to remember that most likely it was that guy wearing a black hat.