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Hacker Types: From Black to White and Everything In-between

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By: Aayog Koirala

March 3, 2017

hacker-faceA hacker is a person having an intimate understanding of the internal workings of a system, computers and computer networks in particular. They are the ones often characterized as malicious, criminals or cyber terrorists but those are black hat hackers(bad hackers). Due to the mass media usage of the word, every hacker is often looked at as a cyber criminal. There are three types of hackers white, gray and black hats. A hacker, one who programs enthusiastically, or who enjoys programming rather than just theorizing about programming, as defined by ''; is not a person with malicious intent.“A sword never kills anybody; it is a tool in the killer's hand.” as said by Seneca makes it clear.Black hat is used to describe a cracker who breaks into a computer system or network with malicious intent. They use their knowledge of computer networks and programming to find or develop software holes and attack methods or other malicious tools to break into machines and steal data, such as passwords, email, intellectual property, credit card numbers or bank account credentials. Black-hat hackers break into secure networks to destroy, modify, or steal data or to make the network unusable for those who are authorized to use the network. With this power they can log on to personal computers, emails, find out passwords, manipulate files and so on. Power corrupts, absolute power corrupts absolutely, so with that power in a single person, or a group they become notorious criminals with malicious intent and can cause massive destruction. One of the most notorious hacker Gary McKinnon has been accused of executing the largest ever hack of United States government computer networks — including Army, Air Force, Navy and NASA systems was charged for 100000US$.There are many such crackers whose sole purpose is to destroy companies, challenge government and use their intelligence for abusive intent. But, there are also gray hat hackers between black hats and white hats. Grey hats don't have legal authorization for breaking into the system, they just like difficult puzzles and finding vulnerabilities. Once they access the network or find vulnerabilities, they tend to inform the owners to improvise and solve the problem. They are like vigilantes, but as they don't have a legal license they are seen as a black hat and cyber criminal in the eyes of the court."The problem, as well as the beauty of a hacker, is that they can't see something broken in the world and leave it be, they are compelled to either exploit it or try to change it" said by Keren Elazari at TED 2014. The one's that try to change it are white hat hackers. The type of hackers that work for companies, the government tries to stop black hat hackers in order to hack them by finding and fixing the vulnerabilities first. As said by Tyrion Lannister, Game of thrones "Once you've accepted your flaws, no one can use them against you", white hat hackers are hired to find flaws in a company and fix them, so that black hat hackers cannot use that vulnerability to break into that network and cause damage. "With great powers comes great responsibility" said by Stan Lee in Spiderman comics is applicable in this sense. Hackers, the real ones with extensive knowledge of computer system, can do a lot of damage, even start another world war with their powers, and the ones who own this power but use them to help others white hats."Creative brains are a valuable, limited resource. They shouldn't be wasted on re-inventing the wheel when there are so many fascinating new problems waiting out there" is the hacker mindset. Elazari in  TED 2014 also says, " hackers are the only ones capable of challenging over-reaching governments and data holding corporates on their own playing field" When every step of people's lives, every email, messages, pictures are accessible and owned by the government, we need hackers to challenge them, not to start wars, terrorise the people of expose national records but to warn the people in the authority not to abuse their powers. Hacking is just a tool, it's the people that are either good or bad.
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