What Is Gray Hat Hacker?

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When there is a little bit of confusion about what type of hacker is trying to annoy you, then you are living in a grey area of sorts. That is where Gray hat hackers come along and are the best of both worlds: they take advantage of systems vulnerabilities and do it for the greater good. The term "gray hat" was coined by Marcus Ranum in his 1995 essay "Hackers and Crackers: The Ethics of Hacking." In that essay, Ranum argues that there is no such thing as a black hat hacker or a white hat hacker. There are only hackers who act maliciously and those who work benevolently. A gray hat hacker may violate ethical standards or principles without the malicious intent ascribed to black hat hackers. Gray hat hackers may engage in practices that seem less than entirely above board but often operate for the common good. Gray hat hackers represent the middle ground between white hat hackers working on behalf of those maintaining secure systems and black hat hackers who act maliciously to exploit system vulnerabilities. The world of information security is often seen as a black-and-white one. There's another shade to it: gray hat hacking. Gray hat hackers are a particular type of hacker who exploits security vulnerabilities to spread public awareness that the vulnerability exists. They're like white hat hackers in that they're doing so to help out, but instead of keeping their findings private, they go public with them. In this case, experts might say that the difference between a white hat hacker and a gray hat hacker is that the hacker exploits the vulnerability publicly, allowing other black hat hackers to take advantage of it. Conversely, a white hat hacker may do it privately to alert the company without publicizing the results.

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