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Cyber Security Chronicles - Chapter 4



August 25, 2017

Cyber Security Chronicles - Chapter 4, Anatomy of a Hacker: The Color Guard

When you think of the word hacker, you probably have negative thoughts automatically rush to the forefront of your brain. However, there are several different types of hackers and a great majority of them are actually on the good side of the battle. What battle you may say? Well, the battle is started by the black hat hacker, who is the traditional hacker that possesses malicious intentions. These intentions could range from a wide variety of harmful outcomes. For instance, the black hat hacker’s intentions could range anywhere from simply defacing property to a denial of service attack that could cause significant downtime, potential corporate reputation damage and extensive financial losses. The malicious hacker could also steal information that is not financial in nature but could be detrimental to a company’s reputation. This is because the black hat hacker releases the stolen information usually on ominous Dark Web for sale with intent on making lucrative money or just to expose your company’s vulnerability.  There are so many more outcomes from these black hat hackers’ malicious intentions that could wreak havoc on an individual online user or  a corporation which could become a whole another paper in itself.


I had mentioned the intent to expose a company’s vulnerabilities and this is a very real scenario for every company. It is important to remember there is no such thing as a 100% secure when it comes to computer systems. Therefore, every corporation usually has some kind of vulnerability susceptible to exposure through exploitations which could leave an organization crippled. This is where another kind of hacker comes into the fight. This hacker is called a white hat hacker. The white hat hacker actually has no ill will or harmful intentions. However, they have the same objective of finding vulnerabilities that are potential threats to organizations. These white hat hackers are actually employed by the organization that they are trying exploit and penetrate for weaknesses. These hackers are seeing a lot of jobs opening up for these skills they can offer. Companies are realizing how important it is to actually have an employee on the staff that can offer the skills of finding vulnerabilities and penetration testing skills. The days of using passive security measures for a bulk of the outer defenses are probably not a good idea with the growing number of attacks and the higher level sophisticated attacks. Still not convinced it’s a war, then see for yourself at if you don’t believe me because there are several breaches every week that make the news. It is also very important to notate that these white hat hackers do not do anything illegal because the company is always aware the tests that are being implemented.


The subject of illegal hacking brings us to the last hacker, the grey hat hacker. This hacker is not like the black hat hacker, in the simple fact that they do not try to expose and penetrate the system for criminal reasons. However the grey hat hacker does not completely abide by the law like the white hat hacker. The reason these hackers are considered different is because the fact that they hack into systems without the knowledge and consent of the company’s upper management who are supposed to be informed and also give consent before such an act is carried out. These hackers generally have the motive of getting the company that they find the vulnerability in too pay them in exchange for proof of concept for the exploitation discovered. The grey hat hacker might be the most controversial because it is hard to decide which way the hacker will go morally. This is because of the simple fact that being so close to the objective of the black hat hacker and their stated law breaking similarity. Yet, most of grey hat hackers are viewed as the good guys and are said to be very close to white hat hackers in mindset and motive, except a few subtle differences like the law breaking or management consent.

These three hackers are all separated by colors and all of them have similarities in some way. For example, all three colors of hacker look for vulnerabilities to expose or penetrate. There are definitely other differences and glaring similarities in the three colors of a hacker, but one thing for sure is the day of thinking the word hacker is associated with the dark web and malicious activities is long gone. The white hat hacker and the grey hat hacker are very important to the survival of corporations and also to some of the threat surfaces that corporations possess, because they can shrink some of the threat surfaces they possess. Therefore, next time you hear someone say they are a hacker ask them what color hacker they are currently practicing, in theory and ethics and do not just assume they are the bad guys. If any of you have any stories of how some people have been treated like a criminal after they found out you were a hacker but you were not employing Black hat techniques and practices, feel free to share. To all of the fellow hackers out there happy hunting and keep up the.
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