What is Hacking? 10 Types Of Hacking & Hackers To Be Aware Of In 2021

cyber security and ethical hacking


Computers and the Internet have changed the work environment of the world beyond imagination. With computers taking up a large part of our lives, all our data is recorded and transferred from laser to computer. Although such a change in work has reduced the physical burden on workers, it has also increased the chances of data theft. Those involved in stealing data or causing damage to systems are knowledgeable people with ill intentions known as hackers. There are many types of hackers. Let’s take a look at how many types of hackers are there and how many types of hacker attacks and techniques are there. | types of hacking

Hacking—Definition, Types, Security, and More

A commonly used hacking definition is the act of compromising digital devices and networks through unauthorized access to an account or computer system. Hacking is not always a malicious act, but it is most commonly associated with illegal activity and data theft by cyber criminals.

Hacking refers to the misuse of devices like computers, smartphones, tablets, and networks to cause damage to or corrupt systems, gather information on users, steal data and documents, or disrupt data-related activity.

A traditional view of hackers is a lone rogue programmer who is highly skilled in coding and modifying computer software and hardware systems. But this narrow view does not cover the true technical nature of hacking. Hackers are increasingly growing in sophistication, using stealthy attack methods designed to go completely unnoticed by cybersecurity software and IT teams. They are also highly skilled in creating attack vectors that trick users into opening malicious attachments or links and freely giving up their sensitive personal data. | types of hacking

As a result, modern-day hacking involves far more than just an angry kid in their bedroom. It is a multibillion-dollar industry with extremely sophisticated and successful techniques.


Computers and the Internet have changed the work environment of the world beyond imagination. With computers taking up a large part of our lives, all our data is recorded and transferred from laser to computer. Although such a change in work has reduced the physical burden on workers, it has also increased the chances of data theft. Those involved in stealing data or causing damage to systems are knowledgeable people with ill intentions known as hackers. There are many types of hackers. Let’s take a look at how many types of hackers are there and how many types of hacker attacks and techniques are there.

types of hacking

There are typically four key drivers that lead to bad actors hacking websites or systems: (1) financial gain through the theft of credit card details or by defrauding financial services, (2) corporate espionage, (3) to gain notoriety or respect for their hacking talents, and (4) state-sponsored hacking that aims to steal business information and national intelligence. On top of that, there are politically motivated hackers—or hacktivists—who aim to raise public attention by leaking sensitive information, such as Anonymous, LulzSec, and WikiLeaks.

A few of the most common types of hackers that carry out these activities involve:

  • White Hat Hackers
  • Black Hat Hackers
  • Gray Hat Hackers
  • Script Kiddies
  • Green Hat Hackers
  • Blue Hat Hackers
  • Red Hat Hackers
  • State/Nation Sponsored Hackers
  • Hacktivist
  • Malicious insider or Whistleblower

1) White Hat Hackers

White hat hackers are a type of hacker who are professionals specializing in cyber security. They are authorized or certified to hack the system. These white hat hackers work for governments or organizations by entering the system. They hack the system from flaws in the cyber security of the organization. This hacking is done to test the level of cyber security in their organization. By doing so, they identify weak points and fix them to avoid attacks from outside sources. White hat hackers work according to the rules and regulations set by the government. White hat hackers are also called ethical hackers.

White hat hackers can be seen as the “good guys” who attempt to prevent the success of black hat hackers through proactive hacking. They use their technical skills to break into systems to assess and test the level of network security, also known as ethical hacking. This helps expose vulnerabilities in systems before black hat hackers can detect and exploit them.

The techniques white hat hackers use are similar to or even identical to those of black hat hackers, but these individuals are hired by organizations to test and discover potential holes in their security defenses.

Purpose : The targets of these types of hackers are helping businesses and have an appetite to detect gaps in the security of the network. Their aim is to protect and assist companies in their ongoing fight against cyber threats. A white hat hacker is anyone who will help protect a company from increasing cybercrime. They help enterprises build security, detect vulnerabilities, and solve them before other cybercriminals are found.

2) Black Hat Hackers

Black hat hackers are also knowledgeable computer experts but with bad intentions. They attack other systems to gain access to systems where they do not have authorized entry. On gaining access, they can steal data or destroy systems. The hacking practices used by these types of hackers depend on the hacking ability and knowledge of the individual. Like the intention of the hacker makes the hacker a criminal. The intent of a person’s malicious action during hacking cannot be judged either to the extent of the breach

Black hat hackers are the “bad guys” of the hacking scene. They go out of their way to discover vulnerabilities in computer systems and software to exploit them for financial gain or for more malicious purposes, such as to gain reputation, carry out corporate espionage, or as part of a nation-state hacking campaign.

These individuals’ actions can inflict serious damage on both computer users and the organizations they work for. They can steal sensitive personal information, compromise computer and financial systems, and alter or take down the functionality of websites and critical networks.

Purpose : Hacking organizations’ networks and stealing bank data, funds or sensitive information. Typically, they use stolen resources to profit themselves, sell them on the black market or harass their target company.

3) Gray Hat Hackers

The intent behind hacking is considered while classifying a hacker. Gray hat hacker falls between black hat hackers and white hat hackers. They are not certified, hackers. These types of hackers work with good or bad intentions. Hacking can be to their advantage. The intent behind hacking decides the type of hacker. If the intention is for personal gain then the hacker is considered a gray hat hacker.

Grey hat hackers sit somewhere between the good and the bad guys. Unlike black hat hackers, they attempt to violate standards and principles but without intending to do harm or gain financially. Their actions are typically carried out for the common good. For example, they may exploit a vulnerability to raise awareness that it exists, but unlike white hat hackers, they do so publicly. This alerts malicious actors to the existence of the vulnerability.

Purpose : The difference is that they do not want to rob people nor specifically want to help people. Instead, they enjoy experimenting with systems to find flaws, crack defenses, and generally find hacking to be a fun experience.

4) Script Kiddies

It is a known fact that half knowledge is always dangerous. Script Kiddies are amateur hackers in the field of hacking. They try to hack the system with scripts from other fellow hackers. They try to hack systems, networks or websites. The motive behind hacking is just to get the attention of your peers. Script kiddies are teenagers who do not have complete knowledge of hacking process.

Purpose : A standard kiddie script attack is a DoS (denial of service) or DDoS attack (distributed denial of service). It simply means that an IP address is flooded with too much traffic causing it to collapse. For example, consider the many Black Friday shopping websites. This creates confusion and prevents anyone else from using the service.

5) Green Hat Hackers

Green hat hackers are types of hackers who’re learning the ropes of hacking. They are slightly different from the Script Kiddies due to their intention. The intent is to strive and learn to become full-fledged hackers. They are looking for opportunities to learn from experienced hackers.

6) Blue Hat Hackers

Blue Hat Hackers are types of hackers who’re similar to Script Kiddies. The intent to learn is missing. They use hacking as a weapon to gain popularity among their fellow beings. They use hacking to settle scores with their adversaries. Blue Hat Hackers are dangerous due to the intent behind the hacking rather than their knowledge.

7) Red Hat Hackers

Red Hat Hackers are synonymous with Eagle-Eyed Hackers. They are the types of hackers who’re similar to white hackers. The red hat hackers intend to stop the attack of black hat hackers. The difference between red hat hackers and white hat hackers is in the process of hacking through intention remains the same. Red hat hackers are quite ruthless while dealing with black hat hackers or counteracting with malware. The red hat hackers continue to attack and may end up having to replace the entire system set up.

Above are 7 types of hackers broadly referred to in the cybersecurity world.

The three types of hackers listed below work in different capacities.

8) State/Nation Sponsored Hackers

Government appoints hackers to gain information about other countries. These types of hackers are known as State/Nation sponsored hackers. They use their knowledge to gain confidential information from other countries to be well prepared for any upcoming danger to their country. The sensitive information aids to be on top of every situation but also to avoid upcoming danger. They report only to their governments.

9) Hacktivist

These types of hackers intend to hack government websites. They present themselves as activists, hence they are known as hacktivists. A hacktivist can be an individual or a group of nameless hackers whose intention is to gain access to government websites and networks. Data obtained from accessed government files are used for personal political or social gain.

10) Malicious insider or Whistleblower

These types of hackers include individuals working in an organization who can expose confidential information. The motive behind the exposure may be a personal enmity with the organization or the person may be facing illegal activities within the organization. The reason for exposing defines the intention behind the exposure. These individuals are known as whistleblowers.


Devices Most Vulnerable To Hacking

Smart Devices

Smart devices, such as smartphones, are lucrative targets for hackers. Android devices, in particular, have a more open-source and inconsistent software development process than Apple devices, which puts them at risk of data theft or corruption. However, hackers are increasingly targeting the millions of devices connected to the Internet of Things (IoT).


Webcams built into computers are a common hacking target, mainly because hacking them is a simple process. Hackers typically gain access to a computer using a Remote Access Trojan (RAT) in rootkit malware, which allows them to not only spy on users but also read their messages, see their browsing activity, take screenshots, and hijack their webcam.


Hacking routers enables an attacker to gain access to data sent and received across them and networks that are accessed on them. Hackers can also hijack a router to carry out wider malicious acts such as distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks, Domain Name System (DNS) spoofing, or cryptomining.


Email is one of the most common targets of cyberattacks. It is used to spread malware and ransomware and as a tactic for phishing attacks, which enable attackers to target victims with malicious attachments or links.

Jailbroken Phones

Jailbreaking a phone means removing restrictions imposed on its operating system to enable the user to install applications or other software not available through its official app store. Aside from being a violation of the end-user’s license agreement with the phone developer, jailbreaking exposes many vulnerabilities. Hackers can target jailbroken phones, which allows them to steal any data on the device but also extend their attack to connected networks and systems.

Prevention from Getting Hacked

There are several key steps and best practices that organizations and users can follow to ensure they limit their chances of getting hacked.

Software Update

Hackers are constantly on the lookout for vulnerabilities or holes in security that have not been seen or patched. Therefore, updating software and operating systems are both crucial to preventing users and organizations from getting hacked. They must enable automatic updates and ensure the latest software version is always installed on all of their devices and programs.

Use Unique Passwords for Different Accounts

Weak passwords or account credentials and poor password practices are the most common cause of data breaches and cyberattacks. It is vital to not only use strong passwords that are difficult for hackers to crack but also to never use the same password for different accounts. Using unique passwords is crucial to limiting hackers’ effectiveness. | types of hacking

HTTPS Encryption

Spoofed websites are another common vehicle for data theft, when hackers create a scam website that looks legitimate but will actually steal the credentials that users enter. It is important to look for the Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure (HTTPS) prefix at the start of a web address.

Avoid Clicking on Ads or Strange Links

Advertisements like pop-up ads are also widely used by hackers. When clicked, they lead the user to inadvertently download malware or spyware onto their device. Links should be treated carefully, and strange links within email messages or on social media, in particular, should never be clicked. These can be used by hackers to install malware on a device or lead users to spoofed websites.

Change the Default Username and Password on Your Router and Smart Devices

Routers and smart devices come with default usernames and passwords. However, as providers ship millions of devices, there is a risk that the credentials are not unique, which heightens the chances of hackers breaking into them. It is best practice to set a unique username and password combination for these types of devices. | types of hacking

Protect Yourself Against Hacking

There are further steps that users and organizations can take to protect themselves against the threat of hacking.

Download from First-party Sources

Only download applications or software from trusted organizations and first-party sources. Downloading content from unknown sources means users do not fully know what they are accessing, and the software can be infected with malware, viruses, or Trojans.

Install Antivirus Software

Having antivirus software installed on devices is crucial to spotting potential malicious files, activity, and bad actors. A trusted antivirus tool protects users and organizations from the latest malware, spyware, and viruses and uses advanced detection engines to block and prevent new and evolving threats.

Use a VPN

Using a virtual private network (VPN) allows users to browse the internet securely. It hides their location and prevents hackers from intercepting their data or browsing activity.

Do Not Login as an Admin by Default

“Admin” is one of the most commonly used usernames by IT departments, and hackers use this information to target organizations. Signing in with this name makes you a hacking target, so do not log in with it by default.

Use a Password Manager

Creating strong, unique passwords is a security best practice, but remembering them is difficult. Password managers are useful tools for helping people use strong, hard-to-crack passwords without having to worry about remembering them.

Use Two-factor Authentication

Two-factor authentication (2FA) removes people’s reliance on passwords and provides more certainty that the person accessing an account is who they say they are. When a user logs in to their account, they are then prompted to provide another piece of identity evidence, such as their fingerprint or a code sent to their device.

Brush Up on Anti-phishing Techniques

Users must understand the techniques that hackers deploy to target them. This is especially the case with antiphishing and ransomware, which help users know the telltale signs of a phishing email or a ransomware attack. | types of hacking

What is Ethical Hacking? How Legal is Ethical Hacking?

Ethical hacking refers to the actions carried out by white hat security hackers. It involves gaining access to computer systems and networks to test for potential vulnerabilities, and then fixing any identified weaknesses. Using these technical skills for ethical hacking purposes is legal, provided the individual has written permission from the system or network owner, protects the organization’s privacy, and reports all weaknesses they find to the organization and its vendors.

How Fortinet Can Help

Fortinet protects organizations from hacking with its suite of industry-leading cybersecurity solutions and threat intelligence. The Fortinet antivirus service reduces the risk of malware causing a data breach, blocks the latest threats, and protects organizations from zero-day attacks. The Fortinet antivirus solution plays a crucial role in securing enterprises’ entire attack surface and IT environments, from on-premises and cloud-based systems to IoT and mobile devices.


What is hacking?

Hacking is the act of compromising digital devices and networks by gaining unauthorized access to an account or computer system.

What are the seven types of hackers?

There are many different types of hackers, the most common of which are black, grey, and white hat hackers. Black hat hackers are the bad guys—the cyber criminals. The white hat or ethical hackers are the good guys, while grey hat hackers are somewhere in the middle. | types of hacking

Other common hacker types include blue hat hackers, which are amateur hackers who carry out malicious acts like revenge attacks, red hat hackers, who search for black hat hackers to prevent their attacks, and green hat hackers, who want to learn about and observe hacking techniques on hacking forums. | types of hacking

Other common hacker types are cyber terrorists, hacktivists, state- or nation-sponsored hackers, script kiddies, malicious insiders, and elite hackers.

What is the biggest hack in history?

The biggest hack in history is thought to be the data breach against Yahoo! The 2013 attack compromised around 3 billion people, and the company revealed that every Yahoo! customer was affected by it.

Which country has the most hackers?

China is believed to be the country with the highest number of dangerous hackers. Most of the major cyberattacks that occurred around the world can be traced back to China.


Information is widely available over the internet. Keen individuals can learn and adapt to them immediately. The intent behind hacking is what sets the hackers apart. The knowledge is used for harming individuals or governments or for personal gain which makes hackers dangerous. The types of hacker attacks vary from organization to organization. The intensity and type of attack are dependent on the hackers’ ability to find the loophole and penetrate the security system. This has put up a huge challenge to organizations and governments to be updated with their cybersecurity at all times. | types of hacking

So, have you made up your mind to make a career in Cyber Security? Visit our Cyber Security Courses for further help. It is the first program in offensive technologies in India and allows learners to practice in a real-time simulated ecosystem, that will give you an edge in this competitive world.

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