Gray Hat

The term “grey hat” or “gray hat” in Internet slang refers to a computer hacker or computer security expert whose ethical standards fall somewhere between purely altruistic and purely malicious. The term began to be used in the late 1990s, derived from the concepts of “white hat” and “black hat” hackers. When a white hat hacker discovers a vulnerability, it will exploit it only with permission and not divulge its existence until it has been fixed, whereas the black hat will illegally exploit it and/or tell others how to do so. The grey hat will neither illegally exploit it, nor tell others how to do so. A further difference among these types of hacker lies in their methods of discovering vulnerabilities. The white hat generally breaks into systems and networks at the request of their employer or with explicit permission for the purpose of determining how secure it is against hackers, whereas the black hat will break into any system or network in order to uncover sensitive information and for personal gain. The grey hat generally has the skills and intent of the white hat but will break into any system or network without permission. In the search engine optimization (SEO) community, grey hat hackers are those who manipulate web sites’ search engine rankings using improper or unethical means but that are not considered search engine spam.

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