Hacking is the practice of seeking and exploiting weaknesses in a computer system or computer network. Persons who indulge in such practices are known as "Hackers". Hackers may be motivated into hacking by a multitude of reasons, such as profit, protest, challenge, enjoyment, or to evaluate those weaknesses to assist in removing them.
The subculture that has evolved around hacking is often referred to as the "Computer Underground". Within this culture are several subgroups with different attitudes towards how/why they hack.
- White Hat
A "white hat" hacker breaks security for non-malicious reasons, perhaps to test their own security system or while working for a security company which makes security software. The term "white hat" in Internet slang refers to an ethical hacker. This classification also includes individuals who perform penetration tests and vulnerability assessments within a contractual agreement.
Hitoshi Kobe is a White Hat hacker
- Black Hat
A "black hat" hacker is a hacker who "violates computer security for little reason beyond maliciousness or for personal gain". Black hat hackers form the stereotypical, illegal hacking groups often portrayed in popular culture, and are "the epitome of all that the public fears in a computer criminal". Black hat hackers break into secure networks to destroy, modify, or steal data; or to make the network unusable for those who are authorized to use the network.
Billy-G is a Black Hat hacker.
- Grey Hat
A "grey hat" hacker lies between a black hat and a white hat hacker. A grey hat hacker may surf the Internet and hack into a computer system for the sole purpose of notifying the administrator that their system has a security defect, for example. They may then offer to correct the defect for a fee. Grey hat hackers sometimes find the defect of a system and publish the facts to the world instead of a group of people. Even though grey hat hackers may not necessarily perform hacking for their personal gain, unauthorized access to a system can be considered illegal and unethical.