What is hacking? and what are the types of it?
Hacking refers to the misuse of devices like computers, smartphones, tablets, and networks to cause damage to or corrupt systems, gather information on users, steal data and documents, or disrupt data-related activity.
A traditional view of hackers is a lone rogue programmer who is highly skilled in coding and modifying computer software and hardware systems. But this narrow view does not cover the true technical nature of hacking. Hackers are increasingly growing in sophistication, using stealthy attack methods designed to go completely unnoticed by cybersecurity software and IT teams. They are also highly skilled in creating attack vectors that trick users into opening malicious attachments or links and freely giving up their sensitive personal data.
As a result, modern-day hacking involves far more than just an angry kid in their bedroom. It is a multibillion-dollar industry with extremely sophisticated and successful techniques.
Types of Hacking/Hackers
There are typically four key drivers that lead to bad actors hacking websites or systems: (1) financial gain through the theft of credit card details or by defrauding financial services, (2) corporate espionage, (3) to gain notoriety or respect for their hacking talents, and (4) state-sponsored hacking that aims to steal business information and national intelligence. On top of that, there are politically motivated hackers—or hacktivists—who aim to raise public attention by leaking sensitive information, such as Anonymous, LulzSec, and WikiLeaks.
A few of the most common types of hackers that carry out these activities involve:
Black Hat Hackers
Black hat hackers are the “bad guys” of the hacking scene. They go out of their way to discover vulnerabilities in computer systems and software to exploit them for financial gain or for more malicious purposes, such as to gain reputation, carry out corporate espionage, or as part of a nation-state hacking campaign.
These individuals’ actions can inflict serious damage on both computer users and the organizations they work for. They can steal sensitive personal information, compromise computer and financial systems, and alter or take down the functionality of websites and critical networks.
White Hat Hackers
White hat hackers can be seen as the “good guys” who attempt to prevent the success of black hat hackers through proactive hacking. They use their technical skills to break into systems to assess and test the level of network security, also known as ethical hacking. This helps expose vulnerabilities in systems before black hat hackers can detect and exploit them.
The techniques white hat hackers use are similar to or even identical to those of black hat hackers, but these individuals are hired by organizations to test and discover potential holes in their security defenses.
Grey Hat Hackers
Grey hat hackers sit somewhere between the good and the bad guys. Unlike black hat hackers, they attempt to violate standards and principles but without intending to do harm or gain financially. Their actions are typically carried out for the common good. For example, they may exploit a vulnerability to raise awareness that it exists, but unlike white hat hackers, they do so publicly. This alerts malicious actors to the existence of the vulnerability.