How to tell the difference between White-Hat, Grey-Hat and Black-Hat hackers

Types of hackersIn the last post on hacktivism, we briefly mentioned three different types of hackers – white-hat hackers, grey-hat hackers and black-hat hackers. This post will delve into these three and help you understand the categories better.

A hacker, as we all know by now, is someone who utilizes his understanding of computers and software coding to bypass security layers. Once he gains illicit access he can use the information to either help or harm the administrator and the users of the hacked network. He uses his discretion while dealing with the information thus gathered. But the way he deals with it provides the premise to differentiate between the kinds of hackers.

White-hat hackers
White-hat hackers are ethical hackers who use their hacking skills for the purpose of improving security. Legal organizations and Governments hire them in order to discover or solve vulnerabilities and exploits. They test the security levels from the point of view of a malicious outsider (with no access information) or a malicious insider (with certain access information). The testing carried out by white-hat hackers is known as penetration testing and is done with the appropriate permissions. Any vulnerabilities found are then resolved accordingly. White-hat hackers are synonymous with ‘sneakers’, ‘red teams’ or ‘tiger teams’.

Grey-hat hackers
Grey-hat hackers are a mixed bunch and it is hard to understand what their motives are. They prefer to remain anonymous. They use their hacking skills for legal or illegal purposes, but never for personal gain. In most cases, they exist to share information and to accomplish something specific that is known only to them. A grey-hat hacker finds flaws in software codes and detects other weaknesses, then shares the information with concerned authorities and within the hacking community. His intention is to simply put the information out there and watch how the situation unfolds. But as soon as a grey-hat hacker achieves personal or materialistic gain, he is classified as a black-hat hacker.

Black-hat hackers
These are stereotypical illegal crackers who utilize their hacking skills solely for personal gain, either in monetary or non-monetary terms. Any criminal activities related to hacked networks can be attributed to black-hat hackers. They make networks unusable for others and attempt to destroy or steal data for selfish motives. This is what makes them a threat to individuals and Governments.

Hacking networks illegally is a crime punishable by law. It also happens to be one of the biggest threats to computer security today thanks to the massive amount of activity that occurs over the Internet. Moreover, it is now absurdly easy to get guides and tools that teach people how to hack various platforms.

For the end user, security is of utmost importance and this requires the best protection tools and awareness about potential threats. Using Quick Heal Total Security barricades your machine against various multi-layered risks and we also take it upon ourselves to educate people about the numerous security threats around us.

Rahul Thadani

Rahul Thadani


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  1. Avatar ABHA CHAWLA MOHANTYJune 4, 2012 at 10:25 AM


  2. I love hackers and this is the part of my life.
    I like hackers skills, and challenges so …………… want to be a …………..hacker, it’s my goal.

    good luck rana…….!