Seven Types of Hacker Motivations

Friday, March 25, 2011

Robert Siciliano

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There are good and bad hackers. Here is a window into what they do and why:

White Hat Hackers: These are the good guys, computer security experts who specialize in penetration testing and other methodologies to ensure that a company’s information systems are secure.

These IT security professionals rely on a constantly evolving arsenal of technology to battle hackers.

Black Hat Hackers: These are the bad guys, who are typically referred to as just plain hackers. The term is often used specifically for hackers who break into networks or computers, or create computer viruses.

Black hat hackers continue to technologically outpace white hats. They often manage to find the path of least resistance, whether due to human error or laziness, or with a new type of attack.

Hacking purists often use the term “crackers” to refer to black hat hackers. Black hats’ motivation is generally to get paid.

Script Kiddies: This is a derogatory term for black hat hackers who use borrowed programs to attack networks and deface websites in an attempt to make names for themselves.

Hacktivists: Some hacker activists are motivated by politics or religion, while others may wish to expose wrongdoing, or exact revenge, or simply harass their target for their own entertainment.

State Sponsored Hackers: Governments around the globe realize that it serves their military objectives to be well positioned online. The saying used to be, “He who controls the seas controls the world,” and then it was, “He who controls the air controls the world.”

Now it’s all about controlling cyberspace. State sponsored hackers have limitless time and funding to target civilians, corporations, and governments.

Spy Hackers: Corporations hire hackers to infiltrate the competition and steal trade secrets. They may hack in from the outside or gain employment in order to act as a mole. Spy hackers may use similar tactics as hacktivists, but their only agenda is to serve their client’s goals and get paid.

Cyber Terrorists: These hackers, generally motivated by religious or political beliefs, attempt to create fear and chaos by disrupting critical infrastructures.

Cyber terrorists are by far the most dangerous, with a wide range of skills and goals. Cyber Terrorists ultimate motivation is to spread fear, terror and commit murder.

McAfee Identity Protection includes proactive identity surveillance to monitor subscribers’ credit and personal information and access to live fraud resolution agents who can help subscribers work through the process of resolving identity theft issues. For additional tips, please visit http://www.counteridentitytheft.com

Robert Siciliano is a McAfee Consultant and Identity Theft Expert. See him discussing another databreach on Good Morning America. (Disclosures)

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