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Cybersecurity As Relatable As Possible (#4)— Hackers | by Cyb3r Philosoph3r 🌐 | Jan, 2024 | #hacking | #cybersecurity | #infosec | #comptia | #pentest | #ransomware


The imperative to discuss hackers stems from the realization that their activities ultimately hinge on the personality of the entity behind the tools they wield.

As Kevin Mitnick once said, “It’s not always the tools that do the job; it’s the person behind the tools.”

In hacking, this statement echoes louder than ever.

The lines between the malicious and the virtuous blur as we delve into the types and motives of hackers.

Credit: stokkete — Fotolia

Black Hat

Ever heard of the dark web? (Our previous episode in this series)

They are often bred there. These are the people behind ‘ILoveYou’, ‘BitDefender’, ‘Agent.BTZ’, and other extremely malicious viruses, worms, trojans, and what-not. Some of them task themselves with digital theft, considering it their best option for massive payouts.

Others are just out there to cause chaos, mayhem, and sometimes even real-world destruction.

Black-hat hackers (also called crackers) are the evil kind. They are the ones behind any form of online trouble. They are who we hunt.

Although, black hats are bad actors; they motivate us to secure an ever-increasing digital era.

White Hat

Company X: “We are looking for someone to test our newly deployed systems. We need to shield from any kind of attack.”

Mr. guru: “Hello there, I have the qualification. I can hack into systems”.

Company X: “You’re hired !”

This typical exchange epitomizes a white hat scenario.

White-hat hackers stand by the old definition and are hired by companies to find exploits and report their findings.

They earn quite a bit of money from these companies, and they rarely utilize exploits for their own gain. Some of these hackers go on to create works of their own, be it an antivirus program or something else.

Some of them work for companies, like red teamers. Others work solo scouting for vulnerabilities in systems (bounty hunters).

Grey Hat

Image generated by Lexica

Meet Lily, a teenage prodigy who discovered the allure of hacking at an early age. Sitting in her basement, surrounded by screens and the hum of hardware, she embarked on a journey that blurred the lines between curiosity and mischief.

She became very talented. However, little did she know that her periodic unauthorized tapping into networks can land her in jail.

Lilly does not wish anybody harm. But she’s very bad at asking for permission when she breaks into systems. She’s under the category we call grey hat hackers.

These can use their knowledge of computers, programs, programming languages, and exploits to help others or themselves.

They occasionally self-administer fixes to programs they installed on their personal computers. However, if you get on their bad side, they can mess with you.

They’ll slip a little something into the next file they send your way to annoy you for a while. They’re not out for blood, but they can bite back if they don’t like you.

Kevin Mitnick

Kevin Mitnick: Mitnick is considered to be one of the most famous hackers in history. He was convicted of hacking into several major computer systems, including those of Motorola, Nokia, and Sun Microsystems.

Adrian Lamo: Lamo was a self-described “white hat” hacker, meaning that he hacked into computer systems for the purpose of exposing security vulnerabilities. He was known for hacking into the New York Times, Yahoo!, and The Wall Street Journal.

Marcus Ranum: Ranum is a security consultant and the founder of Tenable Network Security. He is known for his work on vulnerability research and for his advocacy for security best practices.

Mitnick, Lamo, and Ranum are all examples of “white hat” hackers, meaning that they use their skills for good. However, there are also many “black hat” hackers who use their skills for malicious purposes.

Some of the most famous black-hat hackers include:

Gary McKinnon: McKinnon is a British hacker who was convicted of hacking into NASA and the Pentagon. He claimed that he was only trying to expose government secrets.

Jonathan James

Jonathan James: James was a teenage hacker who was convicted of hacking into several major computer systems, including those of the US Department of Defence and NASA. He committed suicide in 2008 while awaiting sentencing.

Albert Gonzalez: Gonzalez is a Cuban-American hacker who was convicted of hacking into several major retailers, including TJ Maxx and Barnes & Noble. He is believed to have stolen over $200 million in credit card data.

These are just a few of the many famous hackers who have made headlines over the years. Hackers can be both good and bad, but they all share a passion for technology and a desire to learn and explore.

As I stated earlier, bad actors help motivate us to shield our assets in the era of tremendous software development and little security practices.

It’s too many developers out there than security experts.

The essence of learning how to hack is to see through the lens of the bad actors in order to protect.

Learning hacking is not an easy task. It requires a very strong understanding of how everything works — literally. Computers, networks, people. Everything!

Now, would you take a step further to learn, or you’d rather stay at the normal user side and keep watching the war between heroes and villains.

I hope you learned.

Check out the previous episodes:

Cybersecurity ARAP Series

And stay tuned for the next episode ✌️

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