A hacker is someone who uses their technical knowledge and skills to gain unauthorized access to computer systems, networks, or data. However, the term “hacker” can be used to describe different types of individuals with varying motivations.
Some hackers engage in “white hat” or ethical hacking, where they use their skills to help identify and fix security vulnerabilities in computer systems and networks. Others engage in “black hat” or malicious hacking, where they use their skills to steal sensitive information, commit fraud, or cause other types of harm.
There are also “gray hat” hackers who fall somewhere in between, and may engage in activities that are technically illegal but may not be motivated by malice.
It’s important to note that hacking is a complex and multi-faceted field, and not all hackers are the same.
Hacking is a term that has evolved over time and can refer to a wide range of activities. Historically, the term “hacker” referred to someone who was highly skilled with computers and had a passion for exploring and manipulating technology to see what it could do.
However, as technology has become more pervasive in society and more critical to our daily lives, the term “hacker” has taken on a more negative connotation due to the actions of malicious actors who use their skills for illegal or unethical purposes.
There are several different types of hackers, including:
- Ethical hackers, also known as “white hat” hackers, who are hired by organizations to identify security vulnerabilities in their systems and networks in order to help prevent cyber attacks.
- Malicious hackers, also known as “black hat” hackers, who use their skills for illegal or unethical purposes, such as stealing sensitive information or disrupting computer systems.
- Hacktivists, who use hacking as a form of political or social activism, often to promote a specific cause or to protest against government or corporate policies.
- Script kiddies, who are typically young, inexperienced hackers who use pre-written scripts and tools to launch attacks without fully understanding how they work.
- State-sponsored hackers, who are employed by governments to engage in cyber espionage, sabotage, or other types of cyber attacks against other countries or organizations.
It’s important to note that not all hackers are criminals, and that the term “hacker” should not be used interchangeably with “cyber criminal.” Many hackers use their skills for positive purposes and make valuable contributions to the field of cybersecurity.
Other type of hackers
- Grey hat hackers: Grey hat hackers are individuals who sometimes engage in illegal or unethical hacking activities but also use their skills for positive purposes. They may, for example, hack into a system to expose vulnerabilities and then notify the system’s owner to help them fix the problem. Grey hat hacking is a controversial area, and opinions on the practice can be divided.
- Red team hackers: Red team hackers are security professionals who are hired to simulate attacks on an organization’s systems and networks in order to test their defenses. They work to identify weaknesses in the organization’s security posture and provide recommendations for improvement.
- Blue team hackers: Blue team hackers are security professionals who work to defend an organization’s systems and networks against cyber attacks. They use their skills to monitor network traffic, detect intrusions, and respond to security incidents.
- Social engineering hackers: Social engineering hackers use deception and manipulation to trick people into divulging sensitive information or performing actions that compromise security. They may use techniques such as phishing emails, pretexting, or baiting to achieve their objectives.
- Hacktivists: Hacktivists are hackers who use their skills to promote a particular social or political agenda. They may target organizations or individuals that they see as enemies of their cause and engage in cyber attacks to disrupt or damage their operations.
It’s important to note that the motivations and actions of different types of hackers can vary widely, and that not all hackers are the same. Some use their skills for positive purposes, while others engage in criminal or unethical behavior. As such, it’s important to be aware of the different types of hackers and their motivations when thinking about cybersecurity.
- Password cracking: Hackers use password cracking tools to try to guess or crack user passwords, either through brute-force attacks (trying every possible combination of characters until the password is discovered) or dictionary attacks (trying common passwords and variations of them).
- Phishing: Phishing attacks involve tricking users into providing sensitive information (such as passwords or credit card numbers) by posing as a trustworthy source, such as a bank or email provider.
- Malware: Hackers use malware (malicious software) such as viruses, Trojans, and spyware to infect computer systems and steal data, disrupt operations, or gain unauthorized access.
- SQL injection: SQL injection attacks involve injecting malicious code into a website’s database in order to retrieve sensitive information or manipulate data.
- Man-in-the-middle attacks: In a man-in-the-middle attack, the hacker intercepts communication between two parties (such as a user and a website) and eavesdrops on or manipulates the conversation.
- Denial-of-service attacks: Denial-of-service attacks involve overwhelming a website or network with traffic in order to prevent legitimate users from accessing it.
- Session hijacking: Session hijacking attacks involve stealing a user’s session ID (a unique identifier that allows them to remain logged in to a website) in order to gain unauthorized access to the user’s account.
- Social engineering: Social engineering involves using psychological manipulation to trick users into divulging sensitive information or performing actions that compromise security.
- Cross-site scripting (XSS): XSS attacks involve injecting malicious code into a website in order to execute unauthorized actions on behalf of the user, such as stealing their login credentials or taking control of their browser.
- Wi-Fi hacking: Hackers can exploit vulnerabilities in wireless networks to gain unauthorized access to a user’s device or to intercept data being transmitted over the network.
- Keylogging: Keylogging involves recording a user’s keystrokes in order to obtain sensitive information such as passwords or credit card numbers.
- Brute-force attacks: Brute-force attacks involve attempting every possible combination of characters in order to crack a password or encryption key.
- Rootkit: A rootkit is a type of malware that is designed to hide its presence on a system, making it difficult to detect and remove.
- Bots: Hackers can use bots (automated programs) to perform a variety of tasks, such as stealing data, launching DDoS attacks, or spreading malware.
- DNS Spoofing: DNS spoofing involves redirecting a user to a fake website in order to steal their login credentials or other sensitive information.
- Watering Hole attacks: In a watering hole attack, the hacker targets a website that is frequently visited by their target audience and injects malware into the website in order to infect visitors.
- Advanced Persistent Threats (APTs): APTs are long-term targeted attacks that are designed to stay hidden for extended periods of time. APTs often involve a combination of different hacking techniques, such as social engineering, malware, and network intrusion, in order to gain access to sensitive data.
- Zero-day exploits: Zero-day exploits are vulnerabilities in software that are unknown to the software vendor and for which no patch or fix exists. Hackers can exploit zero-day vulnerabilities to gain access to systems and data.
- Eavesdropping: Eavesdropping involves intercepting and monitoring communications between two parties in order to obtain sensitive information.
- Physical attacks: Physical attacks involve gaining access to a system or device by physically breaking into a building or stealing a device.
- Rogue access points: A rogue access point is a wireless access point that has been installed on a network without the network owner’s knowledge or consent. Hackers can use rogue access points to gain unauthorized access to a network or to intercept data being transmitted over the network.
- USB drops: USB drops involve leaving a USB drive containing malware or other malicious software in a public place in the hope that someone will pick it up and plug it into their computer, thereby infecting their system.
- Email spoofing: Email spoofing involves forging the sender’s email address in an email message in order to trick the recipient into believing that the message is legitimate.
- Bluetooth hacking: Hackers can exploit vulnerabilities in Bluetooth-enabled devices to gain access to a user’s device, steal data, or spread malware.
- Clickjacking: Clickjacking involves tricking a user into clicking on a hidden or disguised element on a website, which can result in the user unknowingly taking an action (such as sharing their login credentials).
- DNS hijacking: DNS hijacking involves redirecting a user to a fake website by changing the DNS settings on a device or network.
- Packet sniffing: Packet sniffing involves intercepting and analyzing network traffic in order to obtain sensitive information, such as passwords or credit card numbers.
- SQL mapping: SQL mapping involves identifying vulnerabilities in a website’s database in order to gain access to sensitive data.
- Steganography: Steganography is the practice of hiding information within another file, such as an image or a document, in order to conceal its presence.
- Voice phishing (Vishing): Vishing involves using social engineering techniques to trick a user into divulging sensitive information over the phone.
- Whaling: Whaling involves targeting high-level executives or other high-profile individuals with phishing attacks or other social engineering techniques in order to gain access to sensitive information.
Hacker vs Tracker
A hacker is someone who uses their technical knowledge and skills to gain unauthorized access to computer systems, networks, or data. Hackers can be motivated by a variety of factors, including financial gain, political or social activism, or personal challenge.
On the other hand, a tracker is someone who uses their skills to locate and track people or objects. This could include tracking vehicles or shipments, or finding missing people or fugitives. Trackers may use a variety of techniques to locate their targets, including GPS technology, surveillance cameras, and other tracking tools.
While both hackers and trackers use specialized skills to achieve their objectives, the nature of their activities is very different. Hackers seek to exploit vulnerabilities in computer systems and networks in order to gain unauthorized access, while trackers use their skills to locate and monitor the movements of people or objects.
It’s important to note that both hackers and trackers may operate within legal and ethical boundaries or engage in illegal activities, depending on their motivations and actions. As such, it’s important to be aware of the different types of individuals and their activities in order to better understand the risks and opportunities associated with each domain.
|Activities||Exploiting computer systems and networks||Locating and monitoring the movements of objects|
|Motivations||Financial gain, political/social activism, challenge||Retrieving stolen property, search and rescue|
|Skills||Technical expertise, knowledge of vulnerabilities||GPS technology, surveillance tools|
|Legal status||Activities can be legal or illegal||Activities can be legal or illegal|
- Phishing: Phishing is the practice of tricking individuals into providing sensitive information such as login credentials, credit card numbers, or social security numbers, by impersonating a trustworthy entity through emails, phone calls, or social media.
- Malware: Malware, or malicious software, is software designed to harm or exploit computer systems and networks. This can include viruses, Trojans, ransomware, and spyware.
- Denial-of-service (DoS) attacks: DoS attacks involve overwhelming a computer system, network, or website with traffic in order to prevent legitimate users from accessing it.
- Hacking: Hacking involves gaining unauthorized access to computer systems or networks for the purpose of stealing data, disrupting operations, or causing other harm.
- Cyber espionage: Cyber espionage involves stealing sensitive information from organizations, governments, or individuals for political, financial, or strategic gain.
- Online fraud: Online fraud includes a wide range of activities such as identity theft, credit card fraud, and advance-fee scams.
- Social engineering: Social engineering tactics involve tricking individuals into divulging sensitive information or performing actions that compromise security, often through methods such as phishing or pretexting.
- Cryptojacking: Cryptojacking involves using malware to hijack a computer system’s resources in order to mine cryptocurrency without the owner’s knowledge or consent.
- Insider threats: Insider threats involve individuals with authorized access to sensitive data or systems using their access to carry out illegal activities such as stealing data, selling confidential information, or compromising security.
It’s important to note that cybercrime tactics are constantly evolving and adapting to new technologies and security measures. As such, it’s important for individuals and organizations to stay up-to-date on the latest threats and implement strong security measures to protect against cyber attacks.
How to prevent yourself from being a victim?
There are many steps you can take to reduce your risk of becoming a victim of cybercrime. Here are some tips:
- Use strong passwords: Use unique, complex passwords for each of your online accounts, and consider using a password manager to help you keep track of them.
- Enable two-factor authentication: Two-factor authentication provides an extra layer of security by requiring you to provide a second form of verification in addition to your password, such as a code sent to your phone.
- Keep your software up-to-date: Make sure that your computer operating system, applications, and antivirus software are all up-to-date with the latest security patches and updates.
- Use antivirus and anti-malware software: Install and regularly update antivirus and anti-malware software to protect against malicious software.
- Be cautious of suspicious emails: Be careful when opening email attachments or clicking on links in emails, especially if they are from unknown or suspicious sources.
- Secure your Wi-Fi network: Make sure that your Wi-Fi network is password-protected and uses encryption, and avoid using public Wi-Fi for sensitive activities such as online banking.
- Backup your data: Regularly backup your important files and data to an external hard drive or cloud storage service.
- Be cautious on social media: Be mindful of the information you share on social media, and avoid accepting friend requests or messages from unknown or suspicious accounts.
- Check your accounts regularly: Regularly check your bank accounts, credit card statements, and other online accounts for any suspicious activity.
- Educate yourself: Stay informed about the latest threats and best practices for staying safe online, and consider taking cybersecurity training courses or workshops.
- Be cautious when downloading software: Only download software from trusted sources and be wary of free software offers that seem too good to be true, as they may contain malware.
- Use a virtual private network (VPN): Consider using a VPN when accessing the internet, especially when using public Wi-Fi, as it can help protect your online activity from prying eyes.
- Review your privacy settings: Review the privacy settings on your social media and other online accounts to make sure you’re only sharing information with trusted individuals or groups.
- Use caution when sharing personal information: Be careful when sharing personal information online, especially on social media, and avoid sharing sensitive information such as your home address or social security number.
- Be wary of scams: Be cautious of unsolicited phone calls, emails, or text messages that ask for personal information or financial details, and be especially wary of offers that seem too good to be true.
- Protect your mobile devices: Keep your mobile devices secure by using a passcode or biometric authentication, keeping your software up-to-date, and only downloading apps from trusted sources.
- Use firewalls: Install firewalls on your computer and network to prevent unauthorized access to your system.
- Use encryption: Use encryption to protect sensitive data, such as financial information or personal records.
- Monitor your credit report: Regularly monitor your credit report to check for any unauthorized activity, such as new accounts opened in your name.
- Report suspicious activity: If you suspect that you’ve been the victim of cybercrime, report it to the appropriate authorities, such as your bank or credit card company, and consider filing a report with law enforcement.
Mitnick, K., & Vamosi, R. (2017). The art of invisibility: The world’s most famous hacker teaches you how to be safe in the age of big brother and big data. Little, Brown Spark.
Clarke, R. A., & Knake, R. K. (2019). The fifth domain: Defending our country, our companies, and ourselves in the age of cyber threats. Penguin Press.