Well, in my opinion, everything makes a difference between Hacker and Cracker. Both of them are like the similar poles of the magnet which will never attract each other. Let me explain their jobs to you all, job here means what they actually do. This post is “not” a difference between hackers and crackers because both of them are equally important for the web. If there won’t be any crackers, then there won’t be any hackers too. Let’s get started up with the basic difference between hacker and cracker.
Hackers: White Hats
Hackers are the white hat people. Hackers are the people who fight against the odds, rather crackers. Let me give you an example. If one site is defaced then the defacer will be called the cracker while the one who will patch it up and make it look what it looked like before being cracked is called a hacker. In the nutshell, Crackers are the criminals while the Hackers are the cops. Hackers have the deep knowledge about the latest and the oldest exploits. According to a survey conducted by a Chinese firm, there is just one hacker for 127 crackers and this is a really big score. Hackers, obviously, are rare to find while you can find hundreds of crackers. Hackers are even hired by big firms to check the security of their site. Another name for hackers is Ethical Hacker but they have certain ethics according to which they work. White hats are, generally, the ex-crackers who have changed the profession either because of law’s fear or moral values. Now, let’s take a look at the crackers’ job profile.
Crackers: Black Hats
Crackers are the black hats. Crackers are the people who challenge the white hats. The most common method of challenging is cracking one site’s security and then either leaking the confidential information or defacing. In both the cases, the webmasters face a lot of difficulties. When a cracker defaces a website, it is the job of a hacker to patch it up. Crackers are even sent to jails for doing this and some of them have even been assassinated. In the nutshell, crackers are the outlaws. When a cracker breaches the security of one site, he/she uses all the possible methods to hide himself/herself, rather stay anonymous but it is the cyber science or the foolishness of the crackers which doesn’t help their cause and leads to their arrest, well, in most of the cases. Crackers generally don’t have a lot of knowledge about the security subject; some of them download tools which help them in cracking.
I have already mentioned that this post won’t act as the difference between hacker and cracker but still, some of you might be thinking who’s more powerful. Well, let me tell you the bitter truth. Crackers, in my opinion, are more powerful than hackers because they don’t have to abide by the law and they also don’t have the thing called “fear”! Another reason of the same is that crackers can crack/deface any site and what makes the situation worse is that sometimes it takes months for the webmaster to accept the fact that his/her site’s security has been breached.
Now that you have the basic idea about both hackers and crackers, we will have a quick look at the common interests of both these types of individuals.
What Are the Interests of Hackers?
We already mentioned that hackers are ethical professional, who either believe in digital ethics or are fearful of the law. More importantly, hackers have an in-depth knowledge of digital computing and its security. This is the reason why they can identify and fix the many issues that crackers cause. A common hacker would be interested in knowing more about the inner-layer of computer software and other digital services and check if there are any vulnerability.
If there is a vulnerability, the hacker would be interested in finding the reason and fixing it. Because of this, hackers tend to spend a lot of time in understanding how things work as well as how crackers break those things. It should be noted that there may be some test break-ins into the service/product that the hacker is working for. This is to understand how tough the security systems are. In fact, certain companies hire hackers or set up hackathons to find the bright minds.
For instance, there are hackathons conducted by many companies that work in a sensitive area. There is also a bug bounty system that allows ethical hackers to gain revenue by recognizing possible vulnerabilities. It is to be noted that some hackers work individually while some are hired by an organization. Either way, a white hat hacker has no intention of harm. So, the next time you see someone at the office, trying to fix the piece of software or repair a defacing attack, you can count him as the friendly hacker.
What are the Interests of Crackers?
Crackers utilize exactly what hackers are trying to repair — vulnerabilities. If a cracker finds the vulnerabilities before a hacker does, it can cause a lot of problem for the company. A cracker would either use the bug for stealing data/money or exposing it to the world. Just so you know, there are some rebel crackers who try to expose important information to the world by breaking into certain servers or companies. So, depending on the type of crackers, the interests may vary.
Publicity is one of the major interests of hackers. Quite ironically, though, crackers are so strict about their anonymity and protection from law enforcement. The reason is simple: more often than not, they break the law. That having said, there are certain crackers and cracker groups that have gained utmost respect in the digital community. Anonymous is one of such unbreakable cracker community, which, if it wished, could set the Internet on loose.
Apart from the showcasing of knowledge and power, there are financial interests too. As you know, online finance-based services have become quite common. And these have opened up an option for crackers to get some money, quite illegally. So, this is one of the many other interests of crackers. Also, they have an option to use products/services without paying anything. In addition, there are crackers who spend a lot of time in making certain products available for free — but, of course, with malicious codes inside.
Different Types of Hackers
There are certain classifications within white-hat hackers as well. It means that not all hackers work in same way. The differences are based on what they do, what they can do and whom do they do it for. It needs to be noted that many of these abstract classifications and may vary, from a community to community.
- White-Hat Hackers are also known as Ethical Hackers, as you can guess from the above descriptions. They are often hired by companies to offer protection or fix a mess-up that has been caused by one cracker’s attack. However, there are more freelancing white-hat hackers who are consulted by many companies whenever there is an issue.
- Gray Hat Hackers are a particular type of hackers that stay between good and evil — as you may say. However, they don’t do anything much of good or bad to the Internet. These hackers may get into a bunch of networks for the sake of fun. However, mostly, they don’t cause any problem, though some accidents might happen.
- Red Hat Hackers are a unique type of hackers that act as the law enforcement people in the world of hacking. These hackers may sometimes turn against crackers who have caused problems. If damage was high, red hat hackers may even destroy the system of the attacker, using several techniques. It won’t be wrong to call Red Hat Hackers a type of vigilante for the Internet.
So, these are the type of ethical hackers you might come across. However, it’s hard to make the distinction, you see. For instance, we had to add Gray Hat and Red Hat hackers into the list!
Different Types of Crackers
The security world has different names for different types of crackers. It needs to be noted that crackers are also known as unethical hackers. So, here, we have a list of the different types of unethical hackers based on what they do.
- Script Kiddie is a beginner type of cracker who doesn’t know how software work or how they can be cracked. However, they use the technical tutorial and available-on-demand software to break into other systems and cause trouble. Most of the minor DDoS attacks are done by Script Kiddies, where they use infected computers to destroy/suspend a website. They are also one of the easiest to be caught.
- Black Hat Hackers, better known as Crackers, are the ones we talked about earlier. They know the software/product/service very well and the technology behind. They can, with the maximum effort, cause problems with the service and even steal data/money. In fact, white-hat hackers are employed to protect businesses and products from black-hat hackers.
- Blue Hat Hackers are another type of crackers in the world of security. They carry out attacks for the sake of personal revenge — and revenge only. However, most of them won’t have much of expert knowledge. Instead, just like Script Kiddie, they will be using certain on-demand software or viruses.
While Script Kiddies are often ignored or easily fixed, Black Hat Hackers — Crackers — are noted for breaking a lot of things on the Internet.