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Exploring the Difference Between Hacking and Ethical Hacking


The first thing people think of when they hear the phrase "hacking" is malicious online behaviour. But is that entirely accurate? 

Both ethical hacker and penetration tester are crucial positions in the cybersecurity industry, although there is considerable ambiguity regarding their distinctions. We'll describe what ethical hacking and penetration testing entail in this article, as well as how they differ from one another.

In order to better grasp the difference between ethical hacking and hacking, we shall compare the two words in this blog. But first, you should understand what the term "hacking" and “ethical hacking” entails.

Hacking and Ethical hacking: Definition

Hacking is the process of gaining unauthorised access to material stored privately by specialists. When programmers make mistakes, the system becomes exposed, and hackers use these flaws to hack the system.  Unethical hackers are those who do not adhere to ethical hacking norms. Hackers know that their hacking is illegal and therefore criminal, which is why they are attempting to cover their tracks. In other terms, hacking is defined as an attempt to attack a computer system or a private network within a computer.

Ethical hacking is the legal access to hack the information that the rest of the world does not have. This type of hacking is done to keep out malicious hackers and viruses from system or websites. Ethical hackers adhere to ethical hacking standards. While hackers are highly competent at breaking system programmes, professional ethical hackers can use their talents and abilities to restore the security of a compromised system and catch the criminal.

What Are The Different Types of Hackers?

Types of Hackers

There are six categories of hackers, each with their own motivation for hacking. Some do it maliciously; some do it for enjoyment, while others do it to improve cybersecurity or to hamper other dangerous hackers.

  • White Hats: These hackers are also known as ethical hackers. They hack to increase system security and frequently collaborate with the military, huge IT businesses, or the military.
  • Black Hats: Black hats are the folks who come to mind when you think of a hacker, someone a hidden computer genius spreading havoc from his dark basement. Black hats hack to steal money, and information, or to blackmail others.
  • Grey Hats: They break into networks without permission but have no malicious intent. Instead, they use unethical methods to expose holes in hacked systems and then demand a reward.
  • Blue Hats: These hackers are motivated by vengeance. They are unconcerned with rules, ethics, money, or notoriety. Blue hats are exclusively interested in exacting vengeance on someone, whether it is their workplace, a competition, the government, or even an ex.
  • Green Hats: As the term implies, green hats are unskilled hackers. Because they are new to hacking, they lack the maturity and responsibility that an ethical hacker should have. They also lack the risk-taking, chaotic attitude of unethical hackers.
  • Red Hats: Red Hats are watchful hackers. They are not linked with any corporation or organisation and frequently work alone. They can act with both good and harmful motives, depending on their unique moral compass.

Difference Between Hacker And Ethical Hacker

There are some basic difference between hackers and ethical hackers depending upon their goals.

The goal of black hat hackers is:

  • To extract sensitive information from another person
  • Using transactions and accounts to steal money
  • To access free music and videos
  • Downloading free hacking software is a prohibited action.
  • To obtain useful information from military/naval organisations, and so on
  • To gain access to restricted networking areas

The goal of the white Hat hackers is:

  • To enhance a system's security foundation
  • Creating a high-security programming language, such as Linux
  • Creating the majority of organisational security software
  • Security software auditing and updating
  • Creating programmes such as a pop-up blocker, firewall, and ad blocker

Legal Aspects of Hacking and Ethical Hacking

When it comes to the legal consequences of hacking in general, it is an illegal and criminal offence. This includes penalties such as fines and even incarceration. Ethical hacking, on the other hand, is allowed if done with the system owner's prior approval, followed by authorization from the same.

Before conducting ethical hacking, this consent must be obtained in writing from the owner. To safeguard both parties, a formal contract is drafted. This contract frequently includes an outline of the scope of testing as well as any hacking prohibitions. Ethical hackers are required to follow certain ethical standards, which include elements such as secrecy and truthful reporting of information to the owner.

Difference between Hacking and Ethical Hacking

Difference between Hacking and Ethical Hacking

Hacking is a criminal offence, whereas ethical hacking is both legal and ethical. Hacking with malevolent intent is against the law. This involves obtaining unauthorised information, gaining access to multiple systems, stealing information, and even inflicting physical property damage.

This is done maliciously with the purpose of causing harm or obtaining inaccessible information, whereas ethical hacking is done with prior consent from the owner of the abovementioned systems in order to expose the weaknesses of these devices and networks.

These are some of the basic difference between hacking and ethical hacking, lets dive into this table to learn more about hacking vs Ethical hacking



Ethical Hacking


A hacker targets a network, system, or app in order to obtain personal information from users and may erase, edit, or remove records from an organisation. They seek to take your information.

An ethical hacker would attack a company's network for the proper purposes, such as finding and patching security weaknesses to secure the system, analysing a company's security protocols and quality standards, and assuring an organization's data protection policies. In a nutshell, they safeguard your info.


Hacking is when you get unauthorised access to a company's network or technology. It is completely unlawful, and anyone proven guilty suffers harsh legal ramifications.

The firm authorises and permits ethical hacking, and it is completely legal. An agreement protects ethical hackers. In fact, this is one of the highest-paying jobs available today.


A hacker or cyber attacker can be a single person, a group, or a government-sponsored cyber hacking squad. In either case, a hacker is looking to make money by illegally obtaining confidential material and marketing it or simply using your credit card information. 


Although an ethical hacker may work alone or as part of a company's cyber security team, they are a full-time employee.


They use the same tools as ethical hackers to exploit the vulnerabilities 

They use the same tools as hackers to penetrate the system and seal the explored flaws. 


A deep understanding of operating systems, a good grasp of network security control, and knowledge of programming languages such as Python, JavaScript, C, and C are some of the talents required to be a hacker.

Ethical hackers are given the same basic training as hackers. After getting some practical experience, you can operate as an ethical hacker by pursuing credentials such as the Certified Ethical Hacker (CEH).


A black hat hacker has not received legitimate professional growth. Instead, the individual is always at risk of being apprehended by the authorities.

In contrast to black hat hacking, ethical hacking is a highly sought-after vocation with great remuneration. After obtaining your entry-level position, you can apply for more advanced computer security jobs such as senior penetration tester or network administrator at a business.

Similarities Between Hacking and Ethical Hacking

While there are significant differences between hacking and ethical hacking, there are some similarities:

  • Both hacking and ethical hacking necessitate technical abilities such as networking and programming.
  • Process: Both hacking and ethical hacking use a similar process that includes scanning, reconnaissance, and identity exposure.
  • Tools: Both hacking and ethical hacking use tools such as port scanners, vulnerability scanners, and password crackers.

Although an ethical hacker is a sought-after cyber security specialist who defends our networks from other cybercriminals, there is a lot more to say about ethical hacker vs black hat, but at last, they are both hackers. The strategies for hacking are the same whether you are an ethical, black, or gray-hat hacker. The hackers are all knowledgeable about networks, operating systems, and computer principles. Eventually, they all try to find flaws using zero-day attacks. The primary distinction between hacking and ethical hacking is the individual's intent.

How To Become Certified Ethical Hacker?

You can apply for the EC-Council exam if you have at least two years of professional experience in IT security. If you lack job experience, you will be required to undergo training or through approved online program. The CEH course has no formal educational requirements. 

If you are fresher then these are some steps you can follow to become certified ethical hacker.


LINUX/UNIX, an open-source operating system, improves computer system security. As an certified ethical hacker, you should be familiar with basics of LINUX because it is one of the widely used operating systems for hacking. It gives various tools for hackers. Red Hat Linux, Ubuntu, Kali Linux, BackTrack, and other popular Linux distributions are examples.

Learn Programming Languages

To gain an advantage, try to master more than one programming language. An ethical hacker having proficient knowledge of programming languages can dissect and examine code. The following are some of the greatest programming languages for hackers:

  • Python: Python is widely used for exploit writing.
  • JavaScript: Suitable for web application hacking
  • PHP: Aids in the fight against malicious attackers.
  • SQL: SQL is the best language for hacking huge databases.

Learn Networking

With profound knowledge of network technologies such as Nmap, Wireshark, and others an ethical hacker can overcome field problems. Some key networking ideas are:

  • TCP/IP 
  • Subnetting,
  • Network Masks, and CIDR
  • Domain Name Service (DNS) 
  • Simple Network Management Protocol 


After completing these preceding  steps, you can consider yourself a mid-level ethical hacker. The next step is to become adept by learning real-world hacking techniques.

You can accomplish the following:

  • Start cracking virtual machines by joining HackTheBox.
  • Prepare to take a certification exam such as Pentest+.
  • Join a group such as Stealth Security to keep up with new tools and strategies.


In conclusion, hacking can be both ethical and malicious. While ethical hacking plays a vital part in society by strengthening and improving device security, a black hat hacking attempt is designed to intentionally capture valuable information. Both are diametrically opposed sides of the same coin.

Enrol in the best certified ethical hacking training to learn m ore about ethical hacking.


Q1. What is the distinction between ethical and unethical behavior?

Ans:- A hacker attempts to steal personal information from consumers by targeting a network, system, or app. An ethical hacker, on the other hand, would attack a company's network for the right purposes, such as finding and resolving security issues.

Q2. What is the primary distinction between a cracker and an ethical hacker?

Ans:-  In contrast to a cracker, an ethical hacker is a cyber-security specialist who safeguards an organization's data rather than breaking it for personal benefit.

Q3. Is ethical hacking the same as hacking?

Ans:-  Yes, ethical hacking and actual hacking use the same methods and tools to gain access to a system.

Q4. What are the five ethical hacking steps?

Ans:-  Planning, scanning, getting access, retaining access, analysing, and WAF setup are the five processes of ethical hacking.

Q 5. Is coding required for hacking?

Ans:-  Hacking should ideally entail some type of coding, however this is mostly dependent on the hacker and the tools utilised. Some methods of hacking make use of pre-existing or custom-made software and tools. Password cracking techniques do not require separate coding because they are already integrated into an automated process.

Q6. Is ethical hacking legal?

Ans:- Yes, ethical hacking is legal as long as it is conducted with the owner's permission.

Q7.  What is the difference between white hat and black hat hackers?

 Ans:-  White hat hackers are ethical hackers who use their skills to improve security, while black hat hackers are malicious hackers who exploit vulnerabilities for personal gain.

Q8. Can ethical hacking prevent cyber attacks?

Ans:-   Ethical hacking can identify vulnerabilities in computer systems and networks, allowing businesses and organizations to fix them before they can be exploited by malicious actors. However, it cannot guarantee complete prevention of cyber attacks.


    JanBask Training

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