There are many different definitions of the word "hacking".
If you ask google you get
the gaining of unauthorized access to data in a system or computer
Ask someone at MIT and they may say
the curious exploration of MIT’s campus or the design and implementation of harmless pranks, tricks, and creative inventions that demonstrate ingenuity and cleverness
Ask a hackathon organiser and they may see
the extremely rapid development of a project, usually within 24 hours as part of an event
For the purposes of this post we will be using the first definition.
Hacking is an increasingly well known form of attack, but less well known are those who are doing the hacking.
For a lot of people, the stereotypical image is of a young man, wearing a hoodie, in his parents' basement surrounded by empty energy drink cans.
Others may immediately think of the group Anonymous with their Guy Fawkes masks.
In reality, there are many different flavours of hacker:
- Script Kiddies
- Green Hats
- Black Hats
- White Hats
- Grey Hats
- Nation/State sponsored
Script Kiddies have no experience, and often copy SQL injection strings from some website then proceed to call themselves a hacker. They have no desire to learn and progress, and just want to mess around and cause problems.
Like Script Kiddies, Green Hats have very little experience, and are often referred to as noobs by experienced hackers. but unlike Script Kiddies, Green Hats have a desire to learn and develop their skills.
Hacktivists operate illegally, but do so with the belief that they are working towards a "good" goal. Hacktivists usually deface or DOS the website of the company/organisation they are targeting.
Black Hats are experienced hackers who are hacking illegally. They could be doing so for their own entertainment or for financial gain. They could be solo or part of a group. They could work for themselves or work for hire.
Similar/same experience and skills as Black Hats, but only work on the correct side of the law; often work as PenTesters.
Again, highly skilled/experienced like the black/white hats, but doesn't stay on one side only, instead does both Black and White Hat work.
Nation or state sponsored perform illegal work with the permission of the nation or state they work for.