When you hear the term “hacker,” what do you imagine? You likely see what many see, a lone user hunched over a computer, creating chaos for chaos’ sake. However, this is a dangerously narrow view of those who qualify as “hackers.”
Not all hackers are the same. There are different motivations each have, as well as different targets that they generally don’t deviate from. In order to understand the threats you face online, it helps to know who might go after you, as well as their motivations.
To accomplish this, let’s review 10 classifications of hackers that may be encountered.
The Good Guys
- White Hat Hackers: As the sole member of this unfortunately brief list, white hat hackers follow a strict code of ethics as they use their skills to benefit average users everywhere. The goal of a white hat hacker is to track and eliminate threats to other users. Most white hat hackers are sanctioned security researchers, but there are those, known as “grey hats,” who operate outside of the law’s jurisdiction.
The Politically Motivated
- Hacktivists: These are groups of hackers who unite to achieve a common cause, generally crusading for a particular ideology or political stance. Their modus operandi is more often than not to expose their target through a DDoS attack, or embarrass them by defacing websites.
- Nation State Actors: A nation state actor is one who is directly connected to the government they hack for, often as a part of the military or intelligence gathering branches. Despite their long-term goals and truly considerable budgets, they will often resort to common hacking tools to avoid expending their high-end methods wastefully.
- Nationalist Hackers: A step down from the nation state hacker, nationalist hackers are given a blind eye by the legal system of their country because their activities are beneficial to the goals of their country.
- Script Kiddies: These actors are the delinquents of the hacking spectrum, accomplishing little, for little-to-no financial gain. Typically those with limited skills, script kiddies will often attempt to write basic malware or take part in a larger group’s attack.
The Criminally Motivated
- Cyber Mercenaries: Cyber mercenaries are exactly what they sound like: mercenaries who operate in cyberspace. They are hackers-for-hire, in a sense, often brought on to assist another attacker for a stake in the bounty.
- Organized Criminals: As their name would suggest, organized criminals are hackers who have a firmly defined web of responsibilities within an equally firmly established supply chain. This discipline enables the organized criminal to profit from their crimes with relative ease.
- Repeat Offenders: Similar to the organized criminal, these hackers are not without some skill, but they lack the underworld network of the organized criminal. As a result, the repeat offender is not able to profit as much from their crimes.
- Malicious Insider: These are the cybercriminals who sit next to you in the workplace, actively working to undermine the company or organization. Whether they are motivated by a grudge or money, they leverage their position to commit their crimes.
Of all of these threats, which would you guess causes the greatest problems for SMBs? If you guessed the malicious insider, you’d unfortunately be right. However, that doesn’t mean that you are immune from negative influence from the other hacker types. You’re going to need a solid security solution in place to keep your business safe.