Gray Hat Hacker

What Does Gray Hat Hacker Mean?

A gray hat hacker (also spelled grey hat hacker) is someone who may violate ethical standards or principles, but without the malicious intent ascribed to black hat hackers. Gray hat hackers may engage in practices that seem less than completely above board, but are often operating for the common good. Gray hat hackers represent the middle ground between white hat hackers, who operate on behalf of those maintaining secure systems, and black hat hackers who act maliciously to exploit vulnerabilities in systems.

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Techopedia Explains Gray Hat Hacker

Many people see the world of IT security as a black-and-white world. However, gray hat hacking does play a role in the security environment. One of the most common examples given of a gray hat hacker is someone who exploits a security vulnerability in order to spread public awareness that the vulnerability exists. In this case, experts might say that the difference between a white hat hacker and a gray hat hacker is that the gray hat hacker exploits the vulnerability publicly, which allows other black hat hackers to take advantage of it. By contrast, a white hat hacker may do it privately in order to alert the company, without making the results public.

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Margaret Rouse

Margaret is an award-winning technical writer and teacher known for her ability to explain complex technical subjects to a non-technical business audience. Over the past twenty years, her IT definitions have been published by Que in an encyclopedia of technology terms and cited in articles by the New York Times, Time Magazine, USA Today, ZDNet, PC Magazine, and Discovery Magazine. She joined Techopedia in 2011. Margaret's idea of a fun day is helping IT and business professionals learn to speak each other’s highly specialized languages.