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Difference Between Hacking and Ethical Hacking

Last updated on Dec 20,2019 5.9K Views

Even today the dominant dread word among systems security managers is hacking. Hacking is to gain unauthorized access to data, information, system, or resources. Hackers are people with technical skills who manipulate data to control networks with intention to breach and steal sensitive data. In this article, let’s check out what is the difference between hacking and ethical hacking in the following order:


Hacking and Ethical Hacking

Hacking is the illegal or legal practice of accessing data stored in any system by experts and hacking professionals. These experts are termed as Hackers. Hackers have all the knowledge related to programming and its concepts. The mistakes that are done by programmers while developing or working on software are picked up by hackers to encroach the security framework of the software. 

Hacking - Difference Between Hacking and Ethical Hacking - Edureka

Ethical Hacking, is deployed as a tool across the globe to deal with cyber criminals and protect sensitive data. Ethical Hackers help develop the security system of a framework in a business or organization to prevent potential threats. They are referred to as White Hats, who end up provide protection from the Black Hats who are the unethical hackers. Ethical hacking is adopted by many almost every organization. 


White Hat hackers vs Black Hat hackers

Black Hat Hackers’ objective:

  • Steal valuable information from another user
  • Gain through transactions and accounts
  • To get access to free music and videos
  • Download hacking software for free
  • To steal valuable information from military/navy organizations etc
  • To access restricted networking spaces

White Hat Hackers’ objective:

  • To improve the security framework in a system
  • Developing high-security programming language like Linux
  • Developing most of the security software for organizations
  • Checking and updating security software
  • Developing programs like pop up blocker, firewall, and ad blocker

The types of Black Hat hackers are:

  • Phreakers – Hackers who hack the telephone networks
  • Crackers – Hackers who remove the security wall of software by using software patches
  • Carders – Hackers who attack ATM or credit cards to retrieve user information
  • Script Kiddies – Hackers who want to attack computer systems for no purpose


Categories of Hacking

  • Windows Hacking
  • Database Hacking
  • Web Hacking
  • Network Hacking

Other methods of Hacking

  • Phishing – In this kind of hacking, hackers use their skills to hack passwords of emails or websites. People usually receive phishing emails in their inbox. The hackers usually derive login information of the users by their email ids by asking them to log in and redirecting it to their website.
  • Botnets – Sometimes, robots do the hacking job through botnets.
  • Keyloggers – Hackers install a device on a motherboard port and steal information typed on the keyboard.


Hackers vs Crackers

Hackers help to build security whereas crackers aim to break security. There is a major difference between how the two work although they both engage in the hacking of some sort.

Hackers usually have an advanced level of knowledge regarding computer security and possess all the technical knowledge required as well but are not necessarily skillful as hackers. Hackers aim to counter attacks posed by crackers to the computer systems as well as internet security across networks. 

On the other hand, crackers are well aware that their activities are illegal and thus are criminal activities hence they try to cover their tracks. Even though crackers may be highly skilled in breaching systems, professional hackers can restore the security of the breached system and catch the cracker with their skills and competency.

  • Crackers possess highly advanced and technical knowledge and can create software and tools that are powerful enough to damage and exploit systems after analyzing the system’s weak areas.
  • Most of the times, crackers do not leave their mark behind as they are very efficient and careful in executing their work. However, they pose a serious threat to internet security.

It is well established that hackers are ethical professionals whereas crackers hack into systems illegally and without consent.

Apart from this major difference, another difference is with regards to their understanding of computer systems and security systems. Hackers can write codes in many languages and possess in-depth knowledge of computer languages. On the other hand, crackers do not have an upper hand here. They do not possess much knowledge about computer programming. Their work and the intent behind it makes them poles apart from each other.



  • Thus it is safe to say that hackers break into systems entirely to check for gaps in it and rectify them to update the systems whereas crackers break into the systems with the intention of exploiting them and for personal gains. This is not only unethical but is also illegal and criminal activity.
  • White Hats carry out hacking after being signing a legal contract. On the other hand, Black Hats do not succumb to any approval or agreement as they intend to violate the security of any system that they desire.
  • While a cracker encroaches on personal data and information and uses it to his own advantage, the hacker commits the same action to help a company or an individual to ward off attacks from these crackers. 

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Difference Between Hacking and Ethical Hacking