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Gray Hats


Very few things in life are clear black-and-white categories. In reality, there’s often a gray area. A gray-hat hacker falls somewhere between a black hat and a white hat. A gray hat doesn’t work for their own personal gain or to cause carnage, but they may technically commit crimes and do arguably unethical things.
For example, a black hat hacker would compromise a computer system without permission, stealing the data inside for their own personal gain or vandalizing the system. A white-hat hacker would ask for permission before testing the system’s security and alert the organization after compromising it. A gray-hat hacker might attempt to compromise a computer system without permission, informing the organization after the fact and allowing them to fix the problem. While the gray-hat hacker didn’t use their access for bad purposes, they compromised a security system without permission, which is illegal.
If a gray-hat hacker discovers a security flaw in a piece of software or on a website, they may disclose the flaw publically instead of privately disclosing the flaw to the organization and giving them time to fix it. They wouldn’t take advantage of the flaw for their own personal gain — that would be black-hat behavior — but the public disclosure could cause carnage as black-hat hackers tried to take advantage of the flaw before it was fixed.
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