The world of information technology has grown substantially over the past few years. Today, cybercriminals have learned how to take advantage of security vulnerabilities and gain access to confidential data. And according to information provided by the United States government, these kinds of attacks are on the rise.
This behavior has also inspired the formation of an unofficial counterforce. While ethical hackers have been authorized and approved to go after individuals perpetrating these crimes, there’s another group trying to get in on the action, and they don’t necessarily have the permission to do so.
Keep reading to learn about those at the forefront of the cyber security battleground, from the white hats who take the ethical route to the black hatters with more malicious intent. And, of course, the red hats, the revenge seekers, who will do whatever it takes to bring down the bad guys.
What Is a Red Hat Hacker?
Red hat hackers, also known as red hats, are vigilantes of cybersecurity. A red hat hacker uses their hacking skills to gain a tactical advantage over black hat hackers. Unlike white hats, who design computer software to stop black hat hackers, red hats use aggressive steps to directly hack their black hat counterparts.
Typically, a red hat hacker will work alone. However, it is not uncommon for these hackers to work in groups. Generally speaking, however, red hats are rarely employed by cyber security companies or government agencies.
Red hat hackers face issues related to legitimizing their cyber attacks. Many people in computer science, security software, and penetration testing are unsure about red hats. Nonetheless, red hats continue to launch full-scale attacks against black hat hacker types for the sake of IT justice.
How Do Red Hat Hackers Target Black Hats?
Red hat hackers go after their targets using many of the same tools black hatters rely on. While red hat hackers rely on various hacking techniques to gain remote access and put black hat hackers out of business, they are best known for their ability to infiltrate Linux systems.
Red hats are also very good at carrying out distributed denial of service attacks (DDoS). DDoS attacks disrupt the regular traffic of a computer server or service network. These attacks overwhelm the computer infrastructure with a flood of internet traffic, rendering it disabled.
Red hats also carry out clickjacking attacks, which trick users into thinking they are clicking one item when they are actually clicking another. When the black hat clicks something they believe is safe, there is a hidden software secretly installed by a red hat hacker that carries out a separate command.
Red hat hackers also know how to carry out virus and malware attacks against black hats. They can even launch remote desktop protocol (RDP) hacks, meaning they can take control of a desktop from a secure and remote location.
How Do You Become a Red Hat Hacker?
Computer science-related fields are booming. Information security professionals are needed now more than ever. The community of blue hats, grey hats, white hats, black hats, and red hats is growing. And becoming an ethical hacker or red hat hacker is easier than you think.
Some red hat hackers are self-educated. There is a ton of information on the internet and books you can read to educate yourself on hacking.
On the other hand, many successful hackers are also formally educated. Nowadays, there are lots of programs you can enroll in to learn what successful hackers already know.
Typically, the best way to start is to obtain a certification. These programs also teach students skills like metaprogramming, penetration testing, and how to write self-modifying code. by the end of the program, students should be fluent in multiple programming languages such as:
Don’t let the cost of the program deter you, either. If you invest in your education, you will reap the benefits later. The US Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that Information Security Analysts make $103,590 per year or $49.80 per hour. Besides, certification programs are far more affordable than a traditional degree. They also take less time to complete and allow you to enter the workforce fast.
What Other Types of Hackers Exist?
White Hat Hacker
A white hat hacker is an ethical hacker who is hired by a company to scout out security vulnerabilities. White hat hackers employ many of the same hacking techniques that bad guys use. Once the weaknesses in the security system have been identified, white hats offer their expertise to remediate the problem.
Black Hat Hacker
Black hat hackers are bad guys who hack into IT systems with malicious intentions. Black hats compete against white hat hackers to gain access to confidential information, steal money or destroy valuable data.
Green Hat Hacker
Green hat hackers are the amateurs. They are often referred to as “script kiddies” within the hacking community. The term refers to an unskilled hacker who uses scripts created by other hackers to infiltrate computer programs and systems.
It is generally understood that green hats cannot yet write their own sophisticated programs.
Blue Hat Hacker
Blue hat hackers are security professionals who are hired or invited by a company to test new software and identify vulnerabilities before it is released to the public. For example, Microsoft often invites blue hats to hacker conferences to test its Windows computer programs.
Blue hat hackers carry out penetration testing and other forms of cyberattacks to test for software weaknesses and bugs to improve the final product.
Grey Hat Hacker
Grey hat hackers fall somewhere in the middle of white and black hat hacking. That is to say, these individuals may break laws and violate ethical hacking protocols, but they do not necessarily operate with malicious intent.
Grey hats typically have similar skills as white hats but will break into a system without permission. Unlike a white hat, grey hat hackers usually do not reveal how to fix the problem either.
Examples of Famous Hackers
Hackers typically do everything they can to conceal their identities. However, sometimes these hacker types are found out.
- Kevin Mitnick- after being imprisoned for carrying out a two-year hacking spree, Mitnick is now a white hat hacker and CEO of Mitnick Security Consulting, LLC.
- Jonathan James- hacked into NASA to learn how the International Space Station worked, causing hundreds of thousands of dollars in damages.
- Alber Gonzalez- is currently imprisoned until 2025 after hacking into electronic banking systems and stealing card numbers.
- Kevin Poulsen- made himself famous for hacking into a radio station’s telephone lines and making himself the winning caller of a brand new Porsche.
- Gary McKinnon- accessed 97 computers in the US Armed Forces and NASA system. He alleged he was looking for info related to UFO cover-ups and caused $700,000 in damages.
- Robert Tappen Morris- after becoming famous in the late 1980s for a computer bug he designed, Morris is now a tenured professor at the Massachusetts Institute for Technology.
- Loyd Blankenship- made himself famous for authoring extremely popular essays titled “Conscience of a Hacker” and the “Hacker’s Manifesto.”
- Julian Assange- created WikiLeaks in 2006, where he released numerous classified documents from anonymous sources.
- Anonymous- one of the most nebulous hackers of all time. Anonymous is not a single person but a collective of hackers who have targeted victims like Amazon, Sony, Paypal, and the Church of Scientology.
Red hat hackers are motivated by the idea of information security justice. They target black hats directly and launch hacking attacks to disable the hacker before they cause irreparable damage.
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