Ethical Dilemmas: White Hat vs. Black Hat Hackers

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We all kind of know what hackers do, but did you know that there are different types? Commonly referred to in the tech world as “hat hackers,” they use different colors to differentiate the kind of hackers from one another. There are white, black, and grey hat hackers and many more. In this article, we will discuss white hat vs black hat hackers, whether what they do is ethical, the key differences between them, and what they do within the computer systems. We will also be touching on grey hats, blue hats, green hats, and more.

Read below if you want to learn the differences between black and white hat hackers.

What Are Black Hat Hackers?

What Are Black Hat Hackers

Unethical would be the best way to describe a black hat hacker. A black hat uses their hacking skills with malicious intent for their own financial gain. When discussing white hat vs black hat hackers, the second ones are the bad guys in this scenario.

While they have excellent skills and state-of-the-art black hat hacking tools, the malicious intent behind them makes them criminals. They exploit people’s personal information, such as credit card details, hold systems in large corporations hostage, and exploit vulnerabilities within security systems. Black hats usually do this for their own personal gain, to wreak havoc, or for monetary gain.

How Does a Black Hat Hacker Work?

While a black hat can work alone, it is also more likely to work within an organization that has more black hats. Scams usually rely on working with other black hats as they are complex. A black hat hacker is usually referred to as someone who has gone rogue.

Black hat hackers usually utilize and exploit companies and people by hacking into their computer systems or security systems to gain unauthorized access to information that they can later use to blackmail people or companies. One way of doing this would be to download files within their systems that contain malware.

This virus then spreads throughout the computer system, allowing black hat hackers to access the information we mentioned before. These hacking techniques are highly illegal, and for good reason. The main difference between white hat and black hat hackers is that the second one uses its hacking skills to break into computers to do highly immoral things.

What Are White Hat Hackers?

White Hat Hackers

Now that you know what a black hat is, let’s talk a little bit about what a white hat hacker is and what they do. A white hat hacker uses their hacking skills for good. It is commonly referred to as ethical hacking, and that’s why they have the “ethical hackers” label.

Think of white hat vs black hat hackers almost like yin and yang, the opposite of each other. White hats are usually hired by companies to find vulnerabilities in their systems and to keep black hat hackers out. They also provide new software for companies that black hats can’t utilize. While they usually work alone, it is not uncommon for them to team up within organizations to tackle ethical hacking activities together within a system. The main difference between white and black hats is that the first ones are the good guys.

How Does a White Hat Hacker Work?

They are labeled as ethical hackers, which sounds kind of funny as we are all taught that hacking is bad. This is where the movies get it wrong; there are different types of hackers, and white hat hackers are the ones who use their skills for the greater good.

They are usually hired by a company to do a range of white hat hacking activities. Some of these activities include finding security vulnerabilities within the company’s computer systems and cybersecurity software. Another thing that white hats might do is provide companies with the software that they need. For example, a video production company might need a tool to check its position on Google or automation software that black hats can’t penetrate.

They are often referred to as security experts or security specialists, as they know cybersecurity thoroughly. White hat hackers do something called penetration testing; as penetration testers, their job is to find vulnerabilities within the system that black hat hackers might use. White hats protect sensitive data, look for weaknesses within the system where black hats may try to gain unauthorized access, run vulnerability assessments against malware, and try to strengthen areas where known vulnerabilities may lie.

To be a white hat, you need to have a good degree of technical expertise and broad skills when it comes to cybersecurity. As regards white hat vs black hat hackers, the first ones are the good guys. They don’t call them security pros for nothing!

Blue Hat Hackers, Grey Hat Hackers, & Other Colors

Now that you know the difference between white hats and black hat hackers, let’s talk about a few types of hackers out there. There are some types that fall under different categories. There are grey, green, red, and blue hat hackers.

Grey Hat Hackers

One of the different types of hackers you may come across is a grey hat hacker. They are a good mix between a black hat and a white hat. It seems confusing, I know, but grey hats use a mix of ethical and unethical practices. The difference between a gray hat and a black hat is that grey hat hackers usually lack the malicious intent behind their techniques.

Green Hat Hackers

A green hat is another type of hacker you might come across. Green hats are usually new to the hacking world and are still learning and growing their skill set. Green hats will usually be under the wing of another type of hacker.

Red Hat Hackers

Red hat hackers are branded the hacking world’s vigilantes. When it comes to white vs black hat hackers, they are in a category of their own. Red hats go after cybercriminals who don’t align with their own moral codes. Red hats are famous because they will use white and black strategies to take their opponents down. This includes blackmailing a business for money, which does not align with the red hat’s own morals, as well as using malware.

Blue Hat Hackers

They are a sub-group that falls under white hat hackers in the sense that they do the same job but usually work inside organizations or companies. There is a slight difference when it comes to blue hats and white hats. They usually get called on to hack into new programs that a company might launch to see how vulnerable it is.


How can I become an ethical hacker?

If you’re looking to start a new digital life as a hacker, you must first have a strong computer science and network security background. You should also have an abundance of knowledge when it comes to coding languages.

How can I find organizations that are looking for hackers?

You can find them on most job boards. The trick to landing a job hacking is knowing which systems they use. Once you know what methods they use, you can study on your own, so you can easily show off your hacking techniques and skills in order to pass the interview as well as the hack test.

How can I protect myself against hackers?

The best way to protect yourself against any type of hacker is by constantly updating your security software and systems. You can regularly change your passwords and delete your digital footprint, making yourself more complicated to find.