What is a hacker? Are they all bad?

Hackers have been a topic of discussion for decades. They have evolved from being lone individuals who enjoyed breaking into computer systems to well-organised groups that operate like corporations. In this blog post, we will explore the various types of hackers, how hacking has evolved over the years, and whether all hackers are bad.

By definition, a  hacker is someone who uses their technical skills and knowledge to gain unauthorised access to computer systems or networks. They may do this with malicious intent, or they may do it for ethical reasons, such as testing the security of a system. The intent differentiates the type of hacker they are, whether black hat hackers – malicious intent, white hat hackers – ethical intent and improving system security, and grey hat hackers who fall somewhere in between. Before we dig in deeper, lets look at the evolution of hacking.

The Evolution of Hackers

Hackers have come a long way since the early days of computing. In the 1960s and 1970s, hackers were typically hobbyists who were interested in exploring the capabilities of computer systems. Many of these early hackers were involved in the development of the first computer operating systems, such as UNIX.

As computing became more widespread in the 1980s and 1990s, hackers began to be portrayed in popular culture as criminals who engaged in malicious activity. However, during this time, there were also many ethical hackers who worked to identify and fix security vulnerabilities in systems and networks.

Today, hacker have evolved to operate as well organised groups.

Hacking Organisations

As hacking became more lucrative, some hackers started to form organised groups. These groups operate like corporations, with sales department, people ops, recruitment and corporate offices. They may have a hierarchy of members, with some specialising in hacking, while others focus on selling stolen data.

These organised groups are often referred to as “hacktivists” or “cybercriminal organisations.” They may have political or social agendas and use hacking as a means to achieve their goals. For example, the hacktivist group Anonymous has been responsible for several large-scale attacks on government and corporate targets.

Types of Hackers

  • White Hat Hackers: White hat hackers are ethical hackers who work to identify and fix security vulnerabilities in systems and networks. They are often hired by organisations to test their security and identify potential weaknesses.
  • Black Hat Hackers: Black hat hackers are malicious hackers who engage in illegal activity, such as stealing data or disrupting computer systems. They may be motivated by financial gain, political reasons, or simply for the thrill of the challenge.
  • Grey Hat Hackers: Grey hat hackers fall somewhere in between white hat and black hat hackers. They may engage in illegal activity, but they do so without malicious intent. For example, a grey hat hacker might hack into a system to identify security vulnerabilities, and then notify the organisation so they can fix the problem.
  • State-Sponsored Hackers: State-sponsored hackers are hackers who are employed or supported by governments to engage in cyber espionage, cyberwarfare, or other types of cyber attacks.


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    Types of Hacking

    There are several types of hacking, each with its own goals and methods. Here are some of the most common types of hacking:

    • Phishing: This involves sending fraudulent emails or messages to trick users into giving away their login credentials or other sensitive information.
    • Social engineering: This is the art of manipulating people to gain access to sensitive information or systems. It may involve impersonating someone or using psychological tricks to gain trust.
    • Malware: This refers to any software that is designed to harm computer systems. Malware may include viruses, Trojans, or ransomware.
    • DDoS attacks: A distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attack involves flooding a website or server with traffic to disrupt its services.
    • SQL injection: This involves exploiting vulnerabilities in a website’s database to gain access to sensitive information.

    Are All Hackers Bad?

    In conclusion, hackers have evolved from lone individuals to well-organised groups. The question of whether all hackers are bad is a complex one. There are several types of hackers, each with its own goals and methods. While some hackers have malicious intentions, others use their skills for good or have political or social agendas. Therefore, it is important to understand the different types of hackers and their motivations before making any judgements. 

    How can we help?

    NINTH EAST team of cybersecurity experts are regularly called in by our customers’ to engage on risk mitigation exercises which can be classified as White Hat Hacking. Some of those services include:

    • Penetration Testing: This involves identifying vulnerabilities and weaknesses in a system or network and attempting to exploit them to gain access to sensitive data. The goal is to identify any weaknesses before malicious actors can exploit them.
    • Vulnerability Scanning: This is the process of identifying vulnerabilities in a system or network by scanning it for known security issues. The goal is to identify potential weaknesses that could be exploited by attackers.
    • Risk Assessment: This involves evaluating the security risks associated with a particular system or network. This can include identifying potential threats, determining the likelihood of an attack, and assessing the potential impact of a successful attack.
    • Security Auditing: This involves reviewing a system or network to ensure that it is in compliance with security policies and standards. The goal is to identify any areas where the system may be vulnerable to attack and to ensure that all security measures are in place and working properly.
    • Social Engineering: This involves testing the human element of security by attempting to manipulate employees into divulging sensitive information or compromising security measures. The goal is to identify weaknesses in employee training and awareness and to improve security policies and procedures.

    If your organisation requires any assistance for any of the above services, please click on the Get Consult button above, submit a request and one of our team members will respond with a phone call.