Black Hats, White Hats, Grey Hats, and now Red Hats

Black Hats, White Hats, Grey Hats, and now Red Hats
(Last Updated On: June 30, 2023)

We all know about White Hats (Cyber Good Guys), Black Hats (Cyber Bad Guys), and Grey Hats (White Hats who skirt the edge of legality).

We’re missing a group. The three defined groups are all easily described by their economic motivations for doing what they do. But we have another group who are not easily defined – the Red Hats. Red Hats are groups motivated by politics. These groups have a stated political aim – Free Tibet – and will do what they need via the cyber world to achieve their goals. Since political agenda clash, we will often have Red Hat groups going against each other.

Red Hat groups use all means available – legal and illegal. The same group might at one time be doing something legal (working with law enforcement agencies) and the next moment doing something illegal (using SPAM to get hijacking malware on computers of their opposition). China is a huge country with the whole population connected. Cybercriminal activity inside China is largely contained inside China. Thankfully, the criminal opportunity inside China is vast. There is no need to target places around the world in different languages. They can focus domestically. So, when the Chinese Government says “we have a cybercrime problem,” they are not talking about the world. They are talking about domestically, inside China.

So as we watch the Olympic 2008 Cyberwar progress (i.e. all the activity around Tibet and the Torch), be mindful that this is not a cyber battle between White, Grey, and Black Hats. It is a battle between Red Hats – Groups whose motivation is political.