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The Main Types of Hackers & How to Stay Secure


The internet of today is the wild west for businesses and bred many types of hackers. There’s a big potential to learn, implement, grow, and reach a broader set of audience but hackers make sure you take every online step carefully. Each transaction, interaction, and login can expose your company to malicious agents that aim to steal your data and cripple your business. 

Ever since the pandemic, cyberattacks have grown in sophistication and frequency. According to an IBM report, the average cost of a data breach rose from $3.61 million in 2020 to $4.24 million in 2021. With small and mid-size businesses facing the brunt of these attacks it’s crucial to learn the ways of hackers to protect yourself. Here are 7 types of hackers that you should know about:

Black Hat/Criminal Hackers

Black hat hackers are the ones that pop in your head when you think of “hackers”. They’re the malicious agents looking to find ways to compromise systems, steal sensitive data and bring businesses to a standstill. 

Criminal hackers exploit existing vulnerabilities or force a mistake to gain access to critical data. Black hats use illegal methods such as malware distributions, phishing scams, distributed denial of service (DDoS), man-in-the-middle attacks, brute force attacks, ransomware, political espionage, and dark web commerce to land heavy damages. They are extremely advanced in skills and try to extract as much information or money as possible. Banks, SMBs, and legacy businesses — every organization is a potential target for black hat hackers. 

White Hat/Authorized Hackers

White hat hackers are the opposite side of the coin. They operate on the right side of legal systems and help businesses identify security flaws before they can be exploited. Apart from raw hacking talents, white hats also include researchers and cybersecurity advocates.

Government agencies, major enterprises, and startups employ white hat or ethical hackers to test their security infrastructure. Their job is to stay ahead of hackers with malicious intent and patch security loopholes fast. White hat hackers are cybersecurity experts and the right skillset can fetch them quite a lucrative career. According to a HackerOne survey, white hat hackers earned over $40 million by catching bugs during the 2020 COVID outbreak.

Gray Hat Hackers

As you might have guessed already, gray hat hackers fall somewhere between white hat and black hat hackers. The intention behind their hacking may not always be to harm others but they still enter systems and networks without permission. The morality behind the act makes gray hat hackers fascinating but dangerous proponents — most of them solely enjoy breaking into systems. When gray hats break into systems, they may inform the owners about the flaws and wait for patches before making them public.

Rich Skrenta, the creator of the 1982 Elk Cloner malware, can be considered a gray hacker. A teenage Skrenta only wanted to prank his friends but ended up creating the first-ever Apple malware by infecting his friends’ floppy disks. 

Script Kiddies/Amateur Hackers

Script kiddies are amateur hackers who don’t possess the same level of skills as white hat, black hat, or gray hat hackers. Instead of devising new ways to breach a system, they try to steal scripts and ideas from other experienced hackers and pass them off as their own. Amateur hackers rarely cause sustainable damage because of their lack of knowledge and focus. Denial of service (DOS) is one of their favorite methods of attack but their volatility can sometimes lead to serious losses.  

Green Hat/ Trainee Hackers

Green hat hackers are new agents on the block who are still learning to be better hackers. Green hat hackers differ from script kiddies in their intention. Green hats are fully focused on learning new skills and growing into professional hackers. They strive for new opportunities and an unprotected system might just turn into their next assignment. 

Even though green hat hackers don’t have fully formed skills, their tenacity and unique perspectives can become highly effective in breaking down security systems.

Blue Hat Hackers

The security world is divided into two camps regarding the blue hat hackers. Some believe blue hats to be hackers on a path of revenge. They tend to attack networks and steal data to get back at businesses. Sometimes ex-employees or a victim of a company’s decisions turn into blue hat hackers. For them, hacking is personal.

The other camp considers blue hat hackers to be third-party security consultants that companies hire to strengthen their systems. An independent IT security partner can be highly effective in finding loopholes and rolling out a long-term security strategy for a company. 

Red Hat/Government-Hired Hackers

Red hat hackers work for government agencies but their approach is vastly different from white hat hackers. The primary targets of red hats are the black hat hackers. The red hats go to extreme lengths to detect and stop cybercriminals from attacking flawed devices and networks and their methods of punishment are quite controversial as well. Red hat hackers can use the same illegal tactics as black hats to stop them from succeeding. 

When Do You Need an IT Security Partner? 

If you have read this far, you know how important it is to protect your company from hackers. Considering the growing cybercrimes, you might want to reinforce your security measures. Here are the times when an in-house team can prove to be insufficient in handling security:

  • Your security system needs a lot of work to be done to fend off cyberattacks and your in-house team is not robust enough to handle the tasks
  • You are facing security knowledge and skill gap that cannot be mitigated by expanding the team
  • Your workforce is not prepared to handle access points and protect company data
  • You are planning to save costs but don’t want to settle for less

If you agree with any of the above conditions, you need to onboard an independent team of security experts. An IT security partner can fully protect your business from the onslaught of threat agents.  Managed security services providers have protected small and large businesses from security flaws for years. From network security, UTM, spam protection, and email encryption, to asset tracking, enterprise mobility management, and fully hosted security-as-a-service, there’s a service for every unique security issue. To know how an IT security partner can help you protect your business from hackers and improve efficiency, get in touch with MyTek today.

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