Campus News

National Cyber Security Awareness Month: Hacking 'Hats' Explained

LEXINGTON, Ky. (Oct. 27, 2017) — University of Kentucky Information Technology Services is providing tips and advice throughout Cyber Security Awareness Month. Below is the third in a series of stories, focused on different types of hacking.

There any many types of hackers (e.g., white hat, black hat and gray hat). Here’s how each can play a role in cybercrime.

White Hat Hackers

White hat hackers are ethical hackers who use their abilities with positive intentions. They perform public service by hacking with permission and finding flaws in systems. This serves as an advantage for various organizations, allowing them to fix issues before they are exploited.

Black Hat Hackers

Black hat hackers break into websites and accounts to cause turmoil, often with financial incentive. They spread malware, steal confidential data and often sell it to the highest bidder. Black hat hackers are committing a crime and their actions are subject to federal and state laws, which may include monetary fines and/or imprisonment.

Gray Hat Hackers

Gray hat hackers sometimes violate laws or typical ethical standards, but without malicious intention. They may exploit a security weakness, at times accidentally. Regardless of intention, these crimes are subject to federal and state laws, which may include monetary fines and/or imprisonment.

What should you do if you think you’ve fallen victim to hacking?

Information Technology Services (ITS) Customer Services is available 24/7, by calling 859-218-HELP (4357) or emailing

Want to learn more?

Email the ITS Security Team at


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