Hacker: Originally this term referred to the technology enthusiasts of the 1960s – those who today would be known as “geeks.” Nowadays it’s widely used to refer to pranksters and criminals.
Ethical hacker: Someone who knows how hacking works and understands the dangers it poses but uses those skills for good purposes; often known as a “white-hat hacker.”
Script kiddies: These hackers occupy the lowest level of the hacker hierarchy. They typically possess very basic skills and rely upon existing tools that they can locate on the Internet. These hackers are beginners and may or may not understand the impact of their actions in the larger scheme of things. It is important, however, not to underestimate the damage these individuals can cause; they can still do a great deal of harm.
White-hat hackers: These individuals know how hacking works and the danger it poses, but use their skills for good. They adhere to an ethic of “do no harm.” White-hat hackers are sometimes also referred to as ethical hackers, which is the name most widely known by the general public.
Gray-hat hackers: Hackers in this class are “rehabilitated” hackers or those who once were on “the dark side,” but are now reformed. For obvious reasons, not all people will trust a gray-hat hacker.
Black-hat hackers: A black-hat hacker has, through actions or stated intent, indicated that his or her hacking is meant to break the law, disrupt systems or businesses, or generate an illegal financial return. Hackers in this class should be considered to be “up to no good,” as the saying goes. They may have an agenda or no agenda at all. In most cases, black-hat hackers and outright criminal activity are not too far removed from one another.
Suicide hackers: Hackers in this category perform their activities with little regard for the law or staying undetected. They seek to accomplish their goals at all costs and do not worry if they are caught. Their goals could include political,...