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In the most elemental definition, hacking can be described as the act of exploiting the weaknesses and shortfalls in a computer system, as well as the network of such a system. In the exploitation of these weaknesses, illegal acts might include stealing private information, accessing a network’s configuration and altering it, sabotaging the structural view of the computer’s operating system and much more.

Hacking is practiced in almost all countries. However, it predominates in developed countries. The advancement of information and technology within the last two decades has shown that most hackers are based in developing countries such as in South Asia and Southeast Asia.

The term “hacker” is the source of a lot of controversy today and is confusing to many people. Some regard a “hacker” as someone who has the power to make a computer do anything at will. In another context, a hacker is viewed as a computer security specialist whose primary job is to find the loopholes in a computer system or network and fix them. These loophole finders are sometimes referred to as crackers. All of these ambiguities in the world of hacking have made it hard to identify that a hacker is, a fact that also makes it extremely difficult to detect the activity of a hacker who may be playing around with your system.

A plethora of reasons are behind hacking. Some people are into hacking simply to make money. They can steal your password, break into your private information or even alter your correct information and make it incorrect all for monetary gain. Other hackers are in the game just for a challenge or competition. Furthermore, some hackers are the computer world’s equivalent of social miscreants, whose purpose is to gain access to a network or system. After gaining access, these hackers will render the network useless so that the users cannot use it properly.

For example, if a community is protesting against something, it can try to hack into a system as a sign of protest against the authorities. It can choose to do this instead of breaking other laws that it considers to be important .

There are different types of hackers who have various intentions. Based on their modus operandi, we can classify hackers into the following:

WHITE HAT HACKERS

These are the good guys because they do not have evil intentions. Perhaps they are named “white-hat” hackers because the color white signifies purity and cleanliness. They hack into a system to eliminate its vulnerabilities or as a means of carrying out research for companies or schools that focus on computer security. They are also known as ethical hackers. They perform penetration testing and assess the vulnerabilities of computer systems.

BLACK HAT HACKERS

Black hat hackers hack with a malicious intention of breaking every rule in the book. They hack for personal gain, as well as for monetary reasons. They are known to be from illegal communities that perfectly fit the stereotype of computer criminals. Black hat hackers use a network’s weak spots to render the system useless. These hackers will also destroy your data and information if they are given the chance to do so. When these hackers get into your system, they will threaten to expose your private information to the public with the goal of getting you to do whatever they want. Needless to say, black hat hackers will not fix vulnerabilities in your computer system or network, but will use them against you.

GREY HAT HACKERS

These hackers will trawl the internet and look for weaknesses in a computer system or network and hack into it. They may do this to show loopholes in the network to the network administrator and suggest ways of rectifying those loopholes for a given price.

BLUE HAT HACKERS

It is said that the color blue represents a member of law enforcement, although this is just a convention. These hackers are freelancers who sell their hacking skills as a service. Computer security firms hire hacking experts to test their networks so that they can be checked for weaknesses, vulnerabilities and loopholes before they are released to the public. Blue hat hackers are “good guys” and are different from grey hat hackers, whose intentions may be unpredictable.

ELITE HACKERS

These are hackers who are the experts in the community. In most cases, they can break into something impenetrable and also write complex hacking programs. An example of an elite hacker is Gary McKinnon. As a kid, McKinnon broke into the channels at NASA, installed viruses and deleted files. Elite status is conferred on this type of person primarily by the hacking community or group to which the person belongs.

Its interesting that they all wear hats, isn't it. Maybe they should wear a pashmina scarf or a flat cap? If anyone knows where the idea of a hacker wearing hats comes from then please drop us a line and we'll update this article with the details.