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A Guide to the Types of Hackers

Updated: Jan 27, 2022

[Source: Emsisoft]

Hacking, as most people know, involves the use of advanced programming knowledge to attain something or get through an obstacle. These attainments can range from obtaining unauthorized access to someone’s personal information to debugging and improving a company’s security system. What many people fail to realize is that several diverse types of hackers have unique motives/goals that influence their ways of hacking. It’s important to be aware of the kinds of hackers that you likely will cross paths with at one point in your life so that you’re prepared to take action depending on the hacker’s background.

Here are the 6 main types of hackers:

1. Black Hat hacker

This category is known by most people as Black Hat hackers―hackers that use their coding skills to commit malicious activities by smashing through computer networks without the user’s permission, exploiting security vulnerabilities, and bypassing security protocols. Examples may include, but are not limited to, sending DDoS cyberattacks, distributing computer viruses, selling financial and personal information on the Dark Web, and blackmailing innocent victims with ransom to force those victims to give money in exchange for retrieving back their personal information and other important data. They’re even more dangerous because they have a significant amount of knowledge and experience with these activities, hence why victims hardly escape from them.

2. White Hat hacker

White Hat hackers are essentially the complete opposite of Black Hat hackers when it comes to goals and motives. They are meant to protect people’s systems from threats set in place by Black Hat hackers. Unlike Black Hat hackers, White Hat hackers have the user’s permission to perform hacking techniques with good intentions. They tend to fix a system’s vulnerabilities, develop security tools, and build security antivirus software. All of their actions must be legal no matter the situation they’re in.

3. Grey Hat hacker

These hackers are basically between Black Hat hackers and White Hat hackers, in the sense that they have good intentions like White Hat hackers, while in turn using unethical computer techniques like Black Hat hackers. The most popular example is going through websites or systems without the user’s permission, but without intentions of harming them in any way. In other words, Grey Hat hackers are White Hat hackers who occasionally use immoral moves to make solutions.

4. Red hat hacker

Red hat hackers are very similar to Grey Hat hackers, but their actions tend to be more illegal and extreme, despite their noble intentions.

5. Blue hat hacker

These hackers are either those with the intention of seeking revenge among a person or organization, or those who check security systems and vulnerabilities while being outside of the organization.

6. Green hat hacker

These are new hackers with little experience in hacking and are still learning techniques that could be either noble or malicious. They may not know the potential consequences of their actions and could lead to accidental damage without knowing the solution.

Works cited:

[1] Mehta, Medha. “Different Types of Hackers: The 6 Hats Explained.” InfoSec Insights, 11 June 2021,

[2] “10 Types of Hackers to Be Aware of in 2021.” Jigsaw Academy, 8 Mar. 2021,

[3] SafeBreach. “What Is a White Hat Hacker?” SafeBreach, SafeBreach, 18 Dec. 2020,

[4] Haylee Freelance writer and security enthusiast based in Wellington, et al. “Are All Hackers Criminals?: Emsisoft: Security Blog.” Emsisoft, 3 July 2017,

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