Quite often, I am asked, "…do good hackers exist amongst the bad hackers…?" This is when I often have to look back to my experience as one of the first Computer Crime Team members in Australia. We achieved our country's first jail term for 'unauthorised access to a computer aka 'hacker'.
From this experience and over the years, I have observed that hackers fall into three categories or sub-groups:
- White Hats
- Black Hats
- Grey Hats
White Hats — generally work for security organisations and are assigned to improve and secure computer services by identifying and obtaining security flaws.
Black Hats — are a varied group who use their skills to cause problems for others and can be motivated by a range of motivations and skillsets:
- Some direct their destructive actions at a targeted company or group and are often referred to as 'angry hackers'
- A less skilled group with lower 'hacking' skills who use hacking tools to cause mischief for fun aka known as 'script kiddies' and;
- Those that are interested in political and economic upheaval and view technology as the means to accomplishing a goal, aka 'agenda hackers'
Grey Hats — are independent security experts and consultants who are often reformed Black Hats. (Cybercrime, 2015)
Hacking is quite simply 'unauthorised access and subsequent use of other people's computer systems and can be correlated with everyday burglars who break into a house where in the world of computers, it is a 'computer break-in.'
One must look at how the hacker came about committing the hack that defines what type of hacker they are.
However, over time we have seen another hacking term emerge, and this is 'hacktivism', a term that denotes hacking for a political or activist purpose where at its worst, it can even be a 'terrorist attack'.
It is believed that hacktivism emerged by joining hacking with activism where the hacking techniques are against a target's Internet site to disrupt regular operations such as web sit-ins, virtual blockades, automated email bombs, web hacks, and computer…