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A hacker is a person who uses computer, networking and other skills to gain unauthorized access to data. A hacker is not necessarily a criminal. For many in technology the term hacker is best applied to those who use their skills without malicious intent There are different types of hackers – white hat, black hat and grey hat.

White hat hackers (known as ethical hackers), operate in the public’s best interest. Many work to do penetration testing and are hired to attempt to break into a company’s networks to find the security vulnerabilities.

Black hat hackers (or crackers) gain access to information in order to commit crimes. A black hat hacker – for example – may breach a computer system to steal information with the intent to gain access to financial accounts or to steal identities. They often damage or bring down systems – or hold them for hostage to collect a ransom. They are highly motivated by financial rewards of their criminal activities.

Grey hat hackers fall somewhere in the middle. While their motives may be similar to white hat hackers, they are more likely to access systems without authorization.  But unlike Black hat hackers, their motives are not to create turmoil. Instead they’re may offer to fix vulnerabilities they have discovered through their own unauthorized activities rather then trying to make illegal profit.