A hacker is an unauthorized user who attempts to or gains access to an information system. This is someone who uses various methods to breach defenses and exploit weaknesses in a computer system, server, or network.

There are three main groupings of hackers based upon their professed motivations for hacking and expected outcomes.  Those include:

White Hat Hackers:  White Hat hackers seek out security flaws in networks and software and report them to the authorities, companies, or software developers before damage is done.  What Hats participate in Bug Bounty programs for example. 

Grey Hat Hackers: Grey Hat hackers hack not necessarily for personal gain, but to enable their personal exploits, notoriety, and fame.  They can sell their knowledge and exploits for personal gain, but their motives are not always altruistic.

Black Hat Hackers: Are a large set of hackers who are out for personal gain in various ways.  They are comprised of 4 or so distinct subgroups as shown below: (1) Script Kiddies, (2) Organized Crime, (3) Nation States, and (4) Hacktivists (explained in the box to the right).

Related Terms: Cyber Criminals

Source:  CNSSI 4009

Black Hat Hacker Types:

Script Kiddies: hackers who hack using other peoples software. These hackers do not typically have the skill to write their own exploits or code their attacks.

Organized Crime: these hackers hack for financial benefit. These hackers can be working on behalf of mafia organizations.

Nation States: these hacking organizations hack to benefit their nation from an intellectual property theft, physical protection, or global advantage perspectives and motivations.

Hactivists: Hactivists hack for a social, political, or activist cause. They are not motivated by financial gain, curiosity, or national advantage.

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