Comparing Black Hat, White Hat and Grey Hat Computer Hackers

February 25, 2022

There are a few threats out there that many computer users, including gamers, are always on the lookout for, hackers. Did you know, though, that not all hackers are inherently “bad” people by nature? There are even some who use their skills to promote the greater good?

At Xidax, we’re proud to provide a wide range of gaming desktops and laptops and offer things like custom server computers and assistance with IP safety to prevent any risks of malicious hacking impacting your machine. While many hackers are nefarious individuals or groups, you have to watch out for them. Therefore, it’s essential to understand this whole landscape so you have the complete picture as you look to protect yourself. Here are some basics on the three most common titles for hackers out there today what they do. As well as the kinds of things you can expect from each of them. You can also find out which of them you have to watch out for during your daily operations and some recommendations on how to do this.

Black Hat Hackers

Many of us have an image of a hacker that’s based partially on popular culture, whether it’s the movies or TV. The hacker breaks into various networks for personal or financial gain, often through illicit means. These hackers are known as black hat hackers. While many of them seek personal gain, there is also a strong contingent that’s simply interested in hacking anything they can find, just because they can.

They may even offer to help with security after the fact, but it’s worth mentioning that you probably wouldn’t want their assistance. Unfortunately, they are the ones who often end up creating exploitable weaknesses in your system. Black hat hackers will often operate through malware. One form of malicious software that is often used to steal information and gain access to otherwise protected resources. A common method for black hat hackers is to infect as many computers as possible with malware, then use them as part of a network (called a “botnet”). This botnet can be manipulated at will by the hacker in question.

Any regular computer user is likely well aware of basic security measures for their machine and network. These measures are normally intended to stop black hat hackers. However, it’s important to remember that such measures rarely stop them completely. Malware can still be used as a means for gaining access to your machine and network. The only real way to stop this once it’s happened is to reformat your hard drive and reinstall all software.

Other precautions you can take to limit your risks of dealing with black hat hacking attempts include:

  • Never click unknown links. Many black hat hackers will create false emails or social media accounts to get their targets to click on links they shouldn’t. If you don’t recognize the sender or the link, don’t click it.
  • Make sure all software is updated. Black hat hackers often take advantage of old exploits in programs that have been patched but not updated on users’ machines. So always make sure you’re running the latest program version to protect yourself from this possibility.
  • Use secure passwords. This is pretty obvious. But if your password isn’t secured well enough, it can be brute-forced by black hat hackers to gain access to your computer or network.
  • Be careful with downloads. If you regularly download files of any type, be sure to inspect their contents first before executing them. Many black hat hackers will leave a file that looks like a standard PDF or Word document. However, it is actually an executable file designed to install malware on your machine.

White Hat Hackers

Also known as “ethical hackers” in some circles, white hat hackers are a very different group from black hat hackers. While they often share many of the same skills. White hat hackers put theirs to use for the benefit of companies and individuals. To make sure their software is secure or who wishes to test the security level of an existing network.

These hackers will try everything they can think of to gain access to protected data, networks, and computing resources without actually harming anything that they encounter along the way (with some exceptions). They will often be hired by companies or individuals to do this. They provide detailed reports on any possible vulnerabilities or weaknesses they find.

This isn’t to say that every white hat hacker is altruistic in nature. Some are simply too interested in hacking to turn down the opportunity when offered one. However, most of these hackers are entirely legal and ethical in their actions. Even if they’re occasionally using practices that some might consider shady in nature.

Grey Hat Hackers

Life contains many grey areas, and so does the world of hacking. Grey hat hackers combine some aspects of both black and white hat activities. For instance, a common approach of a grey hat hacker will be to look for vulnerabilities within a given system without the owner’s permission or knowledge, but then to bring that information to the owner and offer to fix the issue… for a price.

Grey hat hackers can sometimes be viewed as criminals. They certainly aren’t looked upon favorably by most companies or individuals who they’ve targeted. Still, at the same time, grey hat activities typically aren’t illegal in nature either. In many cases, grey hat hackers quickly realize that they can make more money — with less risk — by devoting their efforts to the white hat realm.

For more on the kinds of hackers out there and which you need to be cognizant of while operating your gaming computer and server setup, or to learn about any of our gaming laptops or desktops, speak to the pros at Xidax today.

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