Hackers are commonly divided into three hats: white, gray and the infamous black. These colors serve as broad labels describing the extensive spectrum in hacker communities — from the good (white), to the bad (black) and those who fall somewhere in between (gray).
Generally, white-hat and black-hat hackers do similar tasks. Both target applications, networks, computer systems, infrastructure and occasionally even people; often, both camps use the same tools and resources. But their work is not completely homogeneous, differentiating on some major points — including motivation, permission, legality and time.
What would happen if a black hat and white hat both launched attacks and defenses against each other? Who would win and why?
- Both hackers are equally skilled
- Both hackers are equally equipped
- Both hackers are 100% motivated
The whole “Black hat” “White hat” thing is really just a terrible moniker. It obviously confuses people. So I’ll just clear a little something up first. Black hat hackers are malicious. They aim to benefit at the expense of others. White hat hackers are not. They aim to benefit by revealing exploits before a black hat can expose it. There isn’t any magic behind it, there is nothing that makes either one better.
Now for the battle.
The black hat hacker, let’s call him Phil, boots up his disposable computer. He’s running Kali, the most 1337 h4xx0r of all distros. Phil has only one goal today, to take down the best white hat who has been cleaning the web of all exploits.
Greg the white hat powers on his beefy desktop. Being a completely legal operation, he doesn’t have to worry about trashing his computer. GRUB presents him the option to boot to Windows or Gnome. Greg is smart, he knows Kali isn’t all that it’s cracked up to be.
After a 5 hour montage of terminals and bright green letters, Phil has acquired Greg’s IP address. Let’s hope Greg uses a proxy. Phil smashes his keyboard. Greg is behind a proxy! But wait, Phil is about to reroute his connection through a 4-dimensional mainframe, which will allow Phil to crack Greg’s proxy!
Greg’s IRC window blinks, his mouse skirts over to open it.
Hey whitehatxx34, i heard philTehbest is gon try to hack you today. keep n eye out
Greg already knew it, too. He reboots, switches to Gnome, and swaps proxies. Phil’s attempts are for naught.
Greg is declared the winner!
But wait… Greg didn’t do anything. He just avoided the harm of Phil.
That’s correct. Greg’s intentions were to defend against Phil. Greg had no intention to harm Phil, Greg just likes bug bounties.
Hackers like Phil lose constantly. In fact, the average cyber criminal only makes $30k a year. Only when Phil manages to make that one big win is when he does a lot of damage. When all the Ashley Madison accounts are leaked, and they receive that huge exposure.
In the end, the SysAdmins, CSO’s, and CISO’s are the winners for protecting against Phil for so long, especially with the help of Greg!
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