Meaning of Hacking and the Different Kinds of Hackers

When you hear news about hackers penetrating a website, your reaction will typically involve dilating pupils and astonishment -- if the website is your own, symptoms may include a big deal of swearing and deep hate for the hacking community as well.

What you probably don't know, though, is that not all hackers are doing this for their pure amusement: some of them may have done it without malicious intentions, some others even with the aim of improving your security system.

Despite what you may have heard, the meaning associated to the word 'hacking' is a positive one, and it mainly refers to the ability and desire to understand the inner mechanisms through which different components in the ICT world (typically computer programs) work. For this reason, even regular computer programmers are sometimes referred to as hackers.

However, it would be impossible to group all 'hackers' in a single category: the reasons that may bring someone to break a site (or computer program) security can be varied and span from noble intentions (security testing/improving by attack simulation) to not-so-noble ones (testing their programming ability, accessing secret information, or just doing it for the sake of doing it). or even for political reasons.

For this reasons, the hacker community usually distinguishes its members into the following groups, mainly based on the individual aim and ability:

CRACKERS (or Black Hat Hackers): those who will enter your computer just for the fun of it, or to prove their technical skills, which are usually mid to high level.

BLUE HAT HACKERS: A blue hat hacker is someone outside computer security consulting firms that are used to bug test a system prior to its launch, looking for exploits so they can be closed. The term has also been associated with a roughly annual security conference by Microsoft, the unofficial name coming from the blue color associated with Microsoft employee badges.

GRAY HAT HACKERS: A gray hat hacker is a hacker of ambiguous ethics and/or borderline legality, often frankly admitted (the color itself stands somewhere in between 'black' and 'white', the 'bad' and the 'good' guys).

WHITE HAT HACKER: A white hat hacker (sometimes referred to as 'ethical hacker') is someone who breaks security but who does so for altruistic or at least non-malicious reasons. White hats generally have a clearly defined code of ethics, and will often attempt to work with a manufacturer or owner to improve discovered security weaknesses, although many reserve the implicit or explicit threat of public disclosure after a "reasonable" time as a prod to ensure timely response from a corporate entity. The term is also used to describe hackers who work to deliberately design and code more secure systems. To white hats, the darker the hat, the more the ethics of the activity can be considered dubious. Conversely, black hats may claim the lighter the hat, the more the ethics of the activity are lost.

SCRIPT KIDDIES: Script kiddie is a pejorative term for a computer intruder with little or no skill; a person who simply follows directions or uses a cook-book approach -- typically using other people's scripts and shellcodes -- without fully understanding the meaning of the steps they are performing.

HACKTIVIST (rare): A hacktivist is a hacker who utilizes technology to announce a political message. Web vandalism is not necessarily hacktivism.

These categories tend to have a 'closed' approach with one another, meaning white hatters will tend to stay away from black hatters, and vice versa -- which is mainly due to the fact that the single most important thing all these communities have in common is the central role of their 'online reputation'.

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Anonymous

very nice tut

REPLY
john said on November 28, 2010 at 4:23 AM :

@Anonymous

thanks

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