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    Definitions 4 min read

    A hacker is a person who uses computer programming to overcome a problem or challenge within a computer system. While the term hacker often carries a negative connotation, not all hacking involves criminal or malicious activity. 

    What kinds of hackers are there?

    Some of the kinds of hackers include:

    • Black hat hackers: Hackers are often most associated with black hat hackers, or cyber criminals who exploit weaknesses to illegally intrude into computer systems for money, revenge, or just for fun.
    • White hat hackers: These hackers can use their skills to fix problems in a computer system or to help companies strengthen their IT systems by identifying potential weak spots in the security infrastructure.
    • Gray hat hackers: While gray hat hackers have good intentions, they may not use lawful or ethical methods during the hacking process.

    The term hacker can have a negative connotation, as it is often associated with black hat hackers, or cyber criminals who illegally intrude into computer systems for money, revenge, or just for fun. 

    While a black hat hacker exploits any potential weaknesses in the system to gain unethical or unlawful entry into the system, a white hat hacker can use similar skills with the intention of fixing a problem. White hat hackers also help companies strengthen their IT security systems by identifying potential weak spots in the security infrastructure. 

    Another category of hackers includes gray hat hackers, who hack with positive intentions but not might use lawful or ethical means for the hacking process. 

    What is an ethical hacker?

    Ethical hackers perform legitimate services for organizations and IT companies to assess the security risks of a network or system. A certified ethical hacker is a skilled individual who uses the same knowledge and tools as a malicious hacker, but who does so in a lawful and legitimate manner. Ethical hackers will often pursue Certified Ethical Hacker status as part of their professional development.

    Learn more about what’s involved in CEH certification and begin your studies with Tech Republic’s Certified Ethical Hacker study course.

    How does a hacker operate?

    Hackers are equipped with different types of skills and tools that are used to hack into the system. The most common tools used by hackers are downloadable scripts or files that can be disguised in emails or websites.

    As users click on these files, the attachment is launched on the computer or network, and the hacker gets access to the computer. There are several more sophisticated methods of hacking such as brute force attack, Trojan horse, DoS (denial-of-service) attack, and more.

    How can businesses protect themselves from a black hat hacker?

    As hackers continue to find new ways to intrude into computer systems, businesses have to remain vigilant to identify and stop hackers from gaining access or control of their IT network. Businesses should limit employee access to valuable company data, as human error is a common pathway used by hackers. Companies should also install surge protectors and power supplies for uninterruptible power to their IT infrastructure.

    If the budget allows, companies should have a dedicated IT security team responsible for managing the security of the system. Lastly, the business should install anti-hacking software on their computer network to minimize the chances of any hacker gaining entry into their system.  

    Keep an eye on the top 40 cybersecurity startups.

    Top anti-hacking software

    There are different levels of anti-hacking software available on the market. There are some for personal users, small businesses, and large enterprises.

    Some of the most popular anti-hacking software for business include Windows Defender, Microsoft Enhanced Mitigation Experience Toolkit, Malwarebytes Anti-Malware, McAfee Security Plus, and Norton Antivirus program.