Definition of hacking:The activity of using a computer or mobile device to (mostly illegaly) access information stored on another computer system, network or website, or to spread a computer virus or any sort of malware or otherwise malicious software or software-snippets.
There are many different types of hackers, the most common of which are:
- Black hat: Some of them act alone, others operate within large cyber crime organizations. Many black hat hackers started out as so-called script kiddies, who wanted to use their skills to make money.
This hackers' world contains skilled hackers, mostly working for large criminal organizations with partners, resellers, and vendors with whom they buy and sell malware licenses for use by other criminal organizations around the world.
They deploy a wide range of techniques, sometimes quick and automated, using bots that roam across the internet in search of unprotected devices and software vulnerabilities, or as a result of social engineering and highly sophisticated tactics, such as phishing attacks that spread malware and malicious links and attachments.
- White hat: The hackers act as employees of large organizations to search for vulnerabilities in the software (ethical hacking). They work in the spirit of responsible disclosure: there exists an important rule decreeing that whenever they discover security vulnerabilities in a piece of software, they should bring them to the attention of the responsible developers. This provides the right people with the opportunity to firm up the security of their software (and can save them a lot of pain in the process). In return, security gaps that have been successfully patched are only publicly discussed after the patch has been made or, in case a patch isn’t possible, after 90 days have passed. In this way, the public learns about security risks and can make informed decisions. White hat hackers try to find risks before black hat hackers discover them.
- Grey hat: A grey hat hacker is somebody who might abuse moral norms or standards, however without malignant purpose. They might participate in rehearses that appear to be not exactly totally above board, yet are frequently working for the benefit of everyone. Grey hat hackers treat the material they find as a white hat. This could mean passing on a supportive note on the framework to make organizations mindful of their careless activities, or it could mean uncovering the data publically, leaving the organization presented to black hat hackers until they fix the issue.
- Blue hat: This type of hackers use hacking as a weapon to gain popularity among their friends. They use hacking to settle scores with their adversaries and take revenge. Blue hat hackers are dangerous due to the intent behind the hacking rather than their knowledge.
But a blue hat hacker can also be a security expert, highly skilled and often invited by organizations to check the vulnerabilities in their networks. They initiate an attack on a system with the consent of the system owner to find effective ways to secure the network against such attacks. You can look upon them as a sort of "free-lance" white-hat hacker.
- Red hat: What sets the red hat apart from other ethical hackers is that the red hat may choose to engage directly with a black hat, with or without reporting the target to law enforcement or intelligence agencies. Engaging a criminal target directly without support requires advanced skills in programming, software architecture, and social engineering plus an understanding of the law at local, state, national, and international levels. The advantage that a red hat has in the case of taking down an illegal/criminal organization is that he can take immediate action and explain later; but if there are no traces left, the red hat hacker might also choose not to disclose anything to anybody.
- Green hat: Green hat hackers are hackers who are just starting to learn. They don't have a clear motivation at the stage they are in and mostly do this for thrills and possible future chances. They don't intentionally want to cause harm but may do so and since they don't know that much about hacking, they may not be able to fix the damage they caused.
- Cyber-terrorists: Cyber-terrorism counts as computer-based attacks aimed at disabling vital computer systems so as to intimidate, coerce, or harm a government or section of the population: these crimes occur against individuals, businesses, organizations and governments.
There is no unified definition: widely spoken you could say: "the illegal use of computers and the internet to achieve some goal".
-Governments may use hackers to spy on intelligence communications in order to learn about where troops are located or otherwise gain a tactical advantage at war.
-Domestic terrorists may break into the private servers of a corporation in order to learn trade secrets, steal banking information, or perhaps the private data of their employees.
-Global terror networks may disrupt a major website in order to create a public nuisance or inconvenience, or even more seriously: try to stop traffic to a website publishing specific content.
-International terrorists could try to access and disable the signal which flies drones or otherwise controls military equipment.
- Hacktivists: The activity of using computers to try to achieve political change, for example by attacking websites or illegally entering another computer system. Hacktivism combines cyberterrorism, cyberwarfare and cybercrime into scenarios of wide-scale internet disruption or economic collapse, for the sake of a certain ideological, sometimes political goal.
- (State-)sponsored hackers: Strongly related to cyber-warfare. These are hackers who operate under the command of a (foreign) government to disrupt society, defense-mechanisms and government authority.
- Script-kiddies: A script kiddie is an individual who uses scripts or software written by someone else to exploit or break into a computer system. It is a derogatory term, describing someone who uses malicious tools without knowing how they work or being skilled enough to create them. The term script kiddie or script kitty may also be used when playing games to describe a player using cheats (scripts) while gaming.
- Malicious insiders: The United States Computer Emergency Readiness Team (CERT) defines a malicious insider as one of an organization's current or former employees, contractors, or trusted business partners who misuse their authorized access to critical assets in a manner that negatively affects the organization. This is a type of insider who is specifically motivated by ill intent. What defines their entry into your system as malicious is the fact that they use it to destroy, or otherwise sabotage your data and property.
- Elite hackers: An elite hacker is often a normal hacker that has advanced to the next level. Elite hackers can easily write their own exploits and have a deep understanding about IT-systems. Often elite hackers run on a custom made Linux-distribution that is suited to their needs. Therefore they easily have all the tools available. Elite hackers often target a single vulnerability, where less skilled attackers run network security vulnerability-scanners. The more elite hackers even leave no trace when entering a system and carefully modify log files to remove only their own traces. Elite hackers often are experts in wide range of Operating Systems, from Linux, Unix, Mac OS X to Windows.
- Cryptojackers: They solely exploit network vulnerabilities and steal computer resources as a way to mine for cryptocurrencies. They spread malware in a variety of ways, often by planting infectious viruses across the web. These viruses and ransomware-like tactics are used to plant malicious code on victims' systems, which work quietly in the background without the victims’ knowledge. Their actions are often called "cryptocurrency mining".
- Gaming Hackers: A gaming hacker is someone who focuses their hacking efforts on game-competitors: professional gamers might spend thousands of dollars on high-performance hardware and gaming credits, and hackers typically carry out their attacks in an attempt to steal their credit caches or cause distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks to take them out of the game.
- Botnets: Botnet hackers are malware coders who create bots to perform high-volume attacks across as many devices as possible, typically targeting routers, cameras and other Internet of Things (IoT) devices. The bots these hackers create operate by looking for unsecured devices or devices that still have their default login credentials intact. Their goal is to compromise a high volume of network systems.
- Crackers: This category of hackers specifically brake security-codes on items like videos, music-carriers and software-packages to be able to make illegal copies and spread these copies for free or for money, by hand or f.e. through p2p-networks, torrent-websites and the dark web. They break all copyright-laws while doing so.
Definition: The physical elements that make up a computer or electronic system and everything else involved. This includes the monitor, hard drive, memory, the CPU, cd-rom etc. As opposed to hardware: firmware and software make hardware function.
In addition to the above: hardware interchanging is a huge security-risk, by loading someone else's software-carrier like a USB-stick or external harddrive you might expose yourself to threats when they exist on that device. The first viruses and ransomware were spread via floppy-disks in a time where computers were not connected to the internet. Most (larger) organizations have the communication-ports of their hardware disabled to prevent the system from being compromised by users'-machines.