Hacking vs Ethical Hacking: Check Key Differences and Similarities

Hacking and ethical hacking are the two sides of the coin, except one hacks with bad intent while the other does not. Read on to find out what’s the differences and similarities between hacking and ethical hacking.
Hacking Vs Ethical Hacking: Check Key Differences And Similarities
Hacking Vs Ethical Hacking: Check Key Differences And Similarities

In today’s digital age, cyber security is of paramount importance. Data is being stored on the cloud, and online transactions and e-commerce platforms are growing exponentially. People are even dating online nowadays. All this online infrastructure attracts the attention of hackers.

Hackers are people who break into internet networks with malicious intentions like stealing valuable information, blackmailing, or spying. This is called hacking. So, it becomes essential to keep people’s privacy and data safe from hackers. And that’s where ethical hacking comes into play.

Read on to find out the key differences and similarities between hacking and ethical hacking. But first, you should know what exactly hacking means.

What is Hacking?

Hacking refers to breaching a digital network without the permission of its owner. The intention behind hacking may or may not be malicious, but that’s what is commonly meant by hacking, also called unethical hacking or cracking.

On the other hand, when hacking is done with the intention of improving the security of a network or protecting against cyberattacks, it is called ethical hacking.

Why is Hacking done?

Hackers have several motives to break into computer systems. Some of the common ones are stealing valuable information to sell to third parties, blackmailing companies or individuals for personal gain, or holding them to ransom. Hackers also act as spies and act on behalf of competitors or even entire countries to cripple security networks. Hackers also act in protest. For instance, they may hack government websites after some wrongdoing or release sensitive information that the government is misusing. Some hackers are basically anarchists who break into systems and cause chaos just for pleasure.

Types of Hackers

There are six types of hackers who all possess different motivations for hacking. Some have ill intent, some do it for fun, and others perform it to enhance cybersecurity or to stop other dangerous hackers.

White hats: These types of hackers are also called ethical hackers. They perform hacking to improve the security of systems and often work with the military, large tech firms, or the military.

Black hats: These are the people that pop into your mind when you think of a hacker. A hooded computer geek, wreaking havoc from his dark and dingy basement. Black hats hack to steal money, and information or blackmail other people.

Grey hats: They hack into systems without permission but don’t have mischievous intentions. Instead, they follow unethical practices to point out flaws in compromised systems and then ask for a reward.

Blue Hats: These types of hackers are driven by revenge. They don’t care for rules, ethics, money, or notoriety. Blue hats only want to exact revenge on someone, be it their employer, a competitor, the government, or even an ex.

Green Hats: Green hats, as the name suggests, are inexperienced hackers. They have recently begun hacking, so they lack the maturity and responsibility an ethical hacker should have. They don’t have the risk-taking, chaotic behaviour of unethical hackers either.

Red Hats: Red Hats are vigilante hackers. They aren’t affiliated with any company or group and often work alone. They can act with both good and bad intentions, depending on what their distinct sense of morality dictates.

Differences between Hacking and Ethical Hacking


Parameters Hacking Ethical Hacking

Done with malicious intentions to destabilise a computer network


Done to improve security, find breaches, and safeguard networks against future cyber attacks
Practitioners Rogue anarchists, terrorists, vigilantes, and protestors Cybersecurity professionals employed by private firms, the government, or the military
Legality Illegal and punishable Completely legal

 They earn by blackmailing the targets, stealing sensitive information, and selling it to competitors or on the dark web


They are paid by companies, governments, or individuals to safeguard their digital infrastructure and enhance cyber security
Organisation They often work alone due to the risks involved but may work in groups as well. They tend to be part of a team to reduce the likelihood of rogue elements.


Similarities between Hacking and Ethical Hacking

There are a lot of similarities between ethical and unethical hacking. The common ones are listed below:

  • Hacking and ethical hacking both involve breaching a computer network’s security. Only the intentions are different.
  • Hacking and ethical hacking are carried out by specialists who underwent the same training and use the same tools to break into systems.

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