Why the Color of a Hacker’s Hat Matters

img blog Why the Color of a Hackers Hat Matters r2

Your business is valuable. The idea that you’ll NEVER be hacked is (at best) naive, and (at worst) as dangerous as walking around a city at night with a backpack loaded with cash; thinking thieves will never see you. Unless you have an invisibility cloak, for yourself and your business, you will eventually be a target. 

The thing about being a hacker is that it’s much safer – and more profitable – than being a common thief. Unlike you and your business they are, by-and-large, hidden by a vast network of invisibility shields.

Additionally, most hackers aren’t driven to a life of crime out of desperation, they chose their field of expertise. They revel in the challenge of trying to break into IT infrastructures. And, if they’re successful, it’s akin to cracking a safe loaded with gold. YOUR gold. 

If the challenge of cracking your system wasn’t rewarding enough, the rush of endorphins that flood the brain when humans feel victorious is as addictive as morphine. In fact, the term endorphin comes from the words “endogenous,” meaning from the body, and “morphine,” an opiate pain reliever. 

If there is one thing that hackers have in common, it’s an addiction to the high they feel after a successful break-in. So, we’re talking about highly motivated individuals who LOVE doing their job. They are not desperate, they’re driven. Very, very driven.  

But, that’s where the similarities of hackers end. According to excerpts from an article by sw comms, they wrote, “ While the motivations of a hacker can be split, what is common for all [of them] is the lack of regard they have for the victim who bears the costs involved in resolving the attack. Ensuring your business has the highest level of IT security in place to protect your data is essential for modern businesses of every size. 

The Six Primary Motivators for Hackers


A primary motivation for hackers is the money they can obtain by stealing your passwords, and bank details, holding your customer information for ransom, or selling your data to competitors or on the dark web.


A large portion of hackers are driven by the opportunity to break the unbreakable system and gaining the recognition from their peers. This competitive behavior drives groups of hackers to challenge each other to cause disruption at the expense of another business.


Infamous hacker groups use their skills to target large organizations and embarrass their IT teams, break their sophisticated security systems and humiliate the upper management.


Certain types of hackers are motivated by anger and use their skills to directly affect a person, group, or company without any fear of repercussion. 


Hackers have been accused of meddling in current and corporate affairs – a modern-day version of espionage.  


Hackers are motivated by a sense of achievement, working independently or in groups, they want to be recognized. Social media has given them a platform to boast about their exploits on a global scale.” 

The Meaning of Each Main Hat Color

According to an article by TechTarget article, they wrote, “There are three well-known types of hackers in the world of information security: black hats, white hats, and grey hats. These colored hat descriptions were born as hackers tried to differentiate themselves and separate the good hackers from the bad. The roots of the black and white hat labels are drawn from Western movies, where protagonists wore white hats and antagonists wore black hats.

Today, the hacker hat rainbow is broadening. While the terms are not as well known or well used, newer hat colors describe other hacker traits. From green to red to blue, time will tell if these nicknames take hold.

Black, White, and Grey Hats

A Black Hat hacker is someone who maliciously searches for and exploits vulnerabilities in computer systems or networks, often using malware and other hacking techniques to do harm. These stereotypical hackers often break laws as part of their hacking exploits, infiltrating victims’ networks [either] for monetary gain, to steal or destroy data, to disrupt systems, to conduct cyber espionage, or just to have fun.

On the other end of the spectrum, a White Hat hacker is a security specialist hired to find vulnerabilities in software, hardware, and networks that black hats may find and target. Unlike black hats, white hats only hack networks when legally permitted to do so. Also known as ethical hackers, white hats disclose all vulnerabilities to their employers. White hats will also disclose the vulnerability to the vendor whose hardware or software is affected so it may patch other customers’ systems. White hat hacking techniques include penetration testing and vulnerability assessments.

Because things are never black and white, enter the Grey Hat hacker. A fusion of black and white, grey hats exploit security vulnerabilities without malicious intent, like white hats, but may use illegal methods to find flaws. They may even release the vulnerabilities to the public or sell details about them for a profit like a black hat would. Grey hat hackers also often hack without the target’s permission or knowledge. The grey hat description is also used to categorize hackers who may, at one stage in life, have broken the law in their hacking activities but have since made the move to become more ethical, white hat hackers.

Green, Blue, and Red Hats

Over the years, people have attempted to paint the hat moniker other colors to describe different types of hackers. Rounding out the rainbow are green, blue, and red hats.

Green Hat describes hacker wannabes who, though they lack technical hacking skills and education, are eager to learn the tricks of the trade. ***Their motivation may be for money, fame, revenge, or simply the challenge of learning a new skill. Don’t be surprised if that bored teenager isn’t just playing video games.   

A Blue Hat is defined as a hacker seeking revenge. Blue hat hackers are also wannabe hackers like green hats, but vengeance is blue hat hackers’ only motivation — they have no desire to hone their hacking skills [long term].

Red Hat hackers have been characterized as vigilantes. Like white hats, red hats seek to disarm black hats, but the two groups’ methodologies are significantly different. Rather than hand a black hat over to the authorities, red hats will launch aggressive attacks against them to bring them down, often destroying the black hat’s computer and resources.”

To us at Adaptive, these all seem like pretty straight forward definitions. And, your business is vulnerable to all of them for any number of reasons. 

Your competition may want to eliminate you

Think we’re kidding? According to an excerpt from an article by Sophos, they wrote, “Keith Wesley Cosbey, the chief financial officer of a Bay Area company in the student lunch business called Choicelunch, was arrested in April on two felony counts for [allegedly] “illegal acquisition of student data” from the website of Choicelunch’s archrival, The LunchMaster, of San Carlos, California.”

A jilted ex wants revenge

Honestly, this one happens ALL the time, and we could have linked to several stories, but let’s stick with excerpts from this article from The New York Post, “A 24-year-old Polish model dumped her boyfriend, who took revenge by hacking her bank account in a bid to ruin her financially — and inundated her with threatening, hate-filled text messages.

The jilted Nick Doyle managed to seize control of Dagmara Kita’s IP address and hacked into her bank and social media accounts. ”I’m gonna sink your credit score, I’m gonna debt your teeth out. I’ll drain your bank accounts. Believe me, you won’t be able to use your wi-fi without me knowing f—- all,” Doyle wrote. 

They’re hungry

In excerpts from an article by Vox, Sara Morrison wrote, “The person who hacked my Grubhub account last March ordered a black fungus salad with celery, a five-spice-marinated beef entree, and 12 pork dumplings (with chives) for a total of $26.84. At first, it was annoying but didn’t seem like that big of a deal: I notified Grubhub about the fraudulent charge and got a refund. Then I changed my password, sent an angry text to the phone number on the food order, and went about my life, foolishly thinking that this was an isolated incident. It was not.

Five months later, I logged into my bank account to find a substantially smaller number in my savings account than I expected. Sure enough, $9,000 had been wired away two days previously. During the subsequent, frantic call to my bank, I looked at my checking account and saw that $4,000 had been wired away from there, too.

But it wasn’t over. A month later, in September, I received an email from my credit card company informing me that it declined a $323.01 charge that Caviar tried to put on an expired card. Having a pretty good idea of where this was going, I checked my credit card and found that while the $323.01 charge was declined, two charges of $1.64 and $75.43 from Caviar had gone through. And someone else got away with $77.07 of rustic street food.”

The point is, most hackers are unpredictable, ruthless, vile, driven people who won’t rest until they get what they want… YOUR stuff. 

But, there’s one type of hacker that we find to be fascinating; the Red Hat hacker. 

At Adaptive, we understand the sinister motivators of hackers. We also understand that White Hat hackers are being paid to do their job. But Red Hat hackers are motivated by something that’s not often seen in the world as a whole, justice. 

Hats Off to the Red Hat Hackers

Red Hat hackers are a rare and interesting breed. Imagine if the Greek goddess Themis – the personification of divine or natural law, order, and justice – and Robin Hood –  the noble outlaw who stole from the rich and gave to the poor – delivered a small, but elite army of tech-savvy babies into the world. The children would then grow up and form a coalition that not only defends a victim’s IT system but also hunts down the attackers and brings them to justice. 

Let’s look at some excerpts from a Spinning Security article, “A Red Hat hacker’s end goal is not only to protect the [victim’s] system, they want to catch the attacker by hacking into his device to reveal his identity.  The most interesting thing about Red Hat Hackers is they are known as vigilantes because of their unique goals.

Characteristics of a Red Hat Hacker    

#1. They have lots of curiosity

Having lots of curiosity is the main characteristic of every hacker including red hat hackers. Because of this, they have always lots of questions in their mind.

This is the reason they never stop learning and discovering new things, whenever they have any kind of question in their mind they put all their efforts to find the correct answer which satisfies them.

In the case of hackers, they have their best friend Google which helps them to find the right answer and it also tells them something more that they haven’t thought of. 

This is the reason that it is called “if you really want to become a professional hacker then you should definitely learn how to use Google because in the end, Google will stay with you forever.”

#2. They have their own rules

If you know about white hat hackers, then you might know that they have to follow the rules of the company or the organization which they are working for and they work under the supervision of the system administrator or the technical head manager. 

But, in the case of red hat hackers, they don’t follow any rules and regulations because they are hunters of the attackers and if they follow the rules and regulations they can’t catch them. They have their own rules to deal with the attackers and they can use illegal tools for ethical reasons. 

Red hat hackers are among the smartest guys in the hacking industry, and there are not many red hats out there. They are the mixed faces of white and black hats.

#3. They are very Humble Guys

If you meet any professional hacker, you might notice that these guys are very smart and they have lots of knowledge and skill but they never compliment themselves. 

Professional hackers never show their high intelligence and talent in front of anyone because they know who they are and those who call themselves a hacker just by hacking some social media accounts by doing some phishing attacks to impress everyone in their school or in the family are the most foolish guys.

Difference between Red Hat Hacker & White Hat Hacker

Red Hat Hackers & White Hat Hackers – Both of their goals are to stop black hat hackers. But to make it more simple for you let’s understand a couple of points.

  • A white-hat hacker defends the system from the black hat hackers but they would not harm them. A red hat hacker will defend the system and they will also hunt for the attackers.
  • Some white hat hackers are paid for their job and some of them do it without any cost, but the red hat hacker’s aim is only to catch the attacker. Money is a secondary thing for them.
  • Red hat hackers can also attack the white hat hacker if they think they are wrong

Do Red Hat Hackers attack Black Hat Hackers?

A Red Hat hacker does protect IT systems from attacks, but their methodologies, techniques, tools, and working process are very different. They might harm the attacker’s computer by using different types of viruses worms and trojans, they can also conduct attacks like DDOS or social engineering attacks.

The white-hat hacker’s main goal is to report the vulnerability or to help the admins catch the attacker, but the red hat hacker’s priority is to directly hit the attackers and disarm them.

Here are some common methods used by Red Hat Hackers to hunt for Black Hats:

  • Distributed Denial of Service Attack or Denial of Service Attack. 
  • Clickjacking Attack.
  • Cross-Site Scripting Attacks.
  • Virus Attacks.
  • RDP hacking.
  • Hacking Social Accounts & much more…


The Skillset of a Red Hat Hacker

Red Hat Hackers are highly skilled professionals both physically and mentally and it requires lots of patience and practice to master.


At Adaptive, we were not completely convinced that this skillset list was a reasonable expectation for mere mortals – especially the last item on the Red Hat list. I mean, we get that they need to be super-nerds, but action figures too? So we did a little research as to why these superhuman qualifications were listed. Here’s what we found…

Red Hat Hacker’s – They’re Not Mere Mortals

In these (PHENOMENAL) excerpts from an article published by CodeX, they wrote, “What sets the Red Hat apart from other ethical hackers is that the Red Hat may choose to engage directly with a Black Hat target, with or without reporting the target to law enforcement or intelligence agencies.

Engaging a criminal target directly without support requires advanced skills in programming, software architecture, and social engineering, in addition to an understanding of the law at local, state, national, and international tiers.

Code of Conduct

The key defining characteristic of the Red Hat is a generally positive moral and ethical disposition towards others. The same curiosity that drives any hacker to explore is focused on the honing and practice of the craft and the swift execution of any tactics necessary to right some wrong.

Due to the nature of the work involved, bending and breaking the law when necessary is a way of life. The advantage that a Red Hat has in the case of taking down an illegal entity (such as a remote organization attacking some resource in your home country) is that action can be taken immediately and explained later (assuming there is any trace left).

The topic of ethics pertaining to the computer industry is a very complex and nuanced one. There are many cases in which an individual may choose to engage in an activity that is technically illegal but obviously moral from a human standpoint. 

In general, the point of inflection for a red hat hacker to engage a target is when some human rights violation has been found. This action can take the form of anything from erasing one’s own personal record in a remote system to launching a full counter-attack to defend some local resource.

Tactical Advantage 

Criminal activity is reported daily to agencies such as the Federal Bureau of Investigation in the United States of America. Unfortunately, these agencies are often at max capacity due to the complexity and depth of the internet increasing beyond the capabilities of any one agency.

This limitation is exploited daily by malicious actors with full knowledge that their own criminal activities may go undetected or unreported for months or even years, and that once they are discovered, the legal takedown process can be protracted indefinitely while the malicious actor rallies support.

A capable independent operator is able to leverage the malicious actor’s own social exploit, creating a fallback chain in which any investigation into the attack will reveal the malicious actor’s intent and a trail of evidence that has now been placed directly in the trail of investigation.

Combining this tactic with knowledge of the law and the ability to work with and influence law enforcement professionals enables a skilled practitioner to take down a threat of virtually any size, since each move can be executed in a way that places the burden of defense upon the malicious actor up-front.

Actions can be taken against the malicious actor with less fear of jail time than vice-versa, giving the independent operator a tactical advantage.

Skills and Experience

Organizing and executing efforts on-the-fly at this scale requires extensive training and preparation, in general, these skills require a lifelong dedication to the craft itself and not necessarily just the pursuit of money, as the pursuit of money without honor is in direct opposition to the hacker ethos.

Since working on large-scale operations in this manner requires out-of-the-box thinking at every stage and may require relocation and/or infiltration of a target network, the skills required extend far beyond general hacking.

These skills allow a Red Hat to engage enemies using a combination of virtual and physical tactics while relocating to evade law enforcement or corporate security as necessary. Creating the illusion of launching a much larger attack than what is actually happening, or one from an institution with more authority, has an added effect of inducing the malicious actor into a state of surrender, since fighting back carries the risk of being detected by law enforcement agents who are generally more concerned with stopping crime than with stopping civilians who attack criminals.


The Red Hat is a unique player in the security community, combining the skills and ethics of other hats while treating the law as a starting point from which to operate. The skills and experience required for this classification of hacker often place these individuals in close contact with defense and intelligence sectors, however, it should be noted that cooperation with these agencies will generally bring positive results, and security experts are often hired as contractors within the security community.

This creates opportunities for Red Hats to work across industry sectors and governments at will, sometimes performing the job first and asking for permission later (or never). Typical jobs include security auditing (both physical and virtual), quality assurance, training, software architecture, reverse engineering, and other exciting and rewarding work (which also pays well when available).

While not a requirement, some industry certifications can help to obtain certain positions of employment or authority for added tactical advantage. Since the Red Hat does not play by rules and is often ahead of the industry, this individual likely possesses skills in areas prior to their adoption by the security community, so certifications are more of a nice-to-have.”

At Adaptive Office Solutions, cybersecurity is our specialty. We keep cybercrimes at bay by using analysis, forensics, and reverse engineering to prevent malware attempts and patch vulnerability issues. By making an investment in multilayered cybersecurity, you can leverage our expertise to boost your defenses, mitigate risks, and protect your data with next-gen IT security solutions.

Every single device that connects to the internet poses a cyber security threat, including that innocent-looking smartwatch you’re wearing. Adaptive’s wide range of experience and certifications fills the gaps in your business’s IT infrastructure and dramatically increases the effectiveness of your cybersecurity posture.

Using our proactive cybersecurity management, cutting-edge network security tools, and comprehensive business IT solutions you can lower your costs through systems that are running at their prime; creating greater efficiency and preventing data loss and costly downtime. With Adaptive Office Solutions by your side, we’ll help you navigate the complexities of cybersecurity so you can achieve business success without worrying about online threats. 

To schedule a Cyber Security Risk Review, call the Adaptive Office Solutions’ hotline at 506-624-9480 or email us at helpdesk@adaptiveoffice.ca