Differences between hackers and cybercriminals

Published by Reza Rafati on

For once and for all time, we will explain what the difference is between a hacker and a cybercriminal, indeed, there is a difference. There are big differences, and in this post, we will highlight most of the differences you can notice when it comes to hackers and cyber criminals.

Similarities between a hacker and a cyber criminal

Before we take a deep dive into the differences, there are some similarities that both the hacker and the cybercriminal have.

  • Both need to go to the toilet
  • Both choose whatever they wear
  • Both have IT knowledge
  • Both choose a specific path to follow
  • Both think out of the box
  • Both are aware of weaknesses and exploits
  • It is woman or man
  • Age does not matter

Let’s elaborate

As we are humans, we need to go to the toilet, there is no difference in this, meaning, that some of the daily tasks you have to deal with, both the hacker and the cybercriminal also have to deal with. This also includes their cyber hygiene, personal health, mental health and financial stability. As each human on this planet has their own likes and dislikes, you cannot expect that ALL hackers or cybercriminals wear hoodies, masks and gloves. Having knowledge about basic IT is demanded, you cannot help or breach an environment or system if you have no basic IT knowledge.

List of 1000+ Cyber security tools & sources
A collection of must have tried cyber security tools and awesome sources

A hacker or cybercriminal can be from both genders, they are both aware of potential weaknesses and they are able to think out of the box. Did we mention that age does not matter? We are talking about knowledge and experience. This can be obtained from a young age.

The hacker and the cybercriminal have both chosen their own path, most of the times by free will, but of course there are exceptions. This is where the big difference starts.

Differences between hackers and cybercriminals

There are huge differences between a hacker and a cybercriminal. In addition, we have also included the army (cyber soldiers) and script kiddies in the difference list.

In the difference list we will ask 7 questions:

  • When?
  • Why?
  • What?
  • Where?
  • Who?
  • is it ethical?

The hacker

Let’s get this straight, a hacker, is your friend, or at least, he or she can be your friend. They are interested in knowledge and finding borders, they like to experiment and they can go on for hours.

When does the hacker hack?

Whenever the persons feels like

Why does the hacker hack?!

Improvement, personal knowledge and just because it is possible

What does the hacker hack?!

Anything he or she can get into their (virtual) hands, this can be a microwave, power supply (hardware hacking) or any type of system. Yet, social engineering is also a part of hacking. Hackers can also get into your brains.


Can be anywhere, the person next to you might be a hacker.


A person that choose to be in some type of ethical control, someone that is motivated to experiment, and not afraid to make mistakes and learn.


The possibilities are endless, most of the hackers are open-minded but accurate people. Yet again, all are unique and have their own methods.

Is a hacker ethical?!

Yes. There is no need to do harm or to abuse anyone.

Learn how to hire a hacker!
Includes 10 questions you should ask!


Hackers are not cybercriminals. Cybercriminals have chosen the path of doing harm, they are aware of what they are doing and most of the times the operations are setup in structured ways. The cybercriminals exploit the weaknesses of systems and people, and they make sure that there is some type of gain for them, this can direct or future gain.

When does the cybercriminal operate?!

Whenever the persons feels like

Why does a cybercriminal perform illegal activities?!

(Financial) gain or harm

What does the cybercriminal target?!

Something or someone that can provide gain or can be caused harm to.

Where does the cybercriminal operate?!

Any place that provides some sense of physical operational security or access to perform (financial) gain or harm.

Who is a cybercriminal?

Someone that choose to wonder if that day comes that he or she will be arrested or simply discarded by the criminal organisation.

How does a cybercriminal operate?

Any method that provides (financial) gain or can do harm. This includes social engineering.

Is a cybercriminal ethical?!

No, there is a big part in the word that clearly says criminal.

Top 5 recent data breaches
List of top 5 most recent data breaches

The Army

These are the people that serve the interest of the people of your country. The people that go work at the army, are employees, some have families, but they all believe in what they do, and they have chosen to serve their country.

When: According to instructed (attack) plan
Why: Most likely for political or intelligence reasons
What: Strategic targets
Where: Locations designated by the army
Who: A employee that is making a living
How: As instructed and by the freedom given
Ethical: Hard to say, but I would go for Yes, this power & knowledge game is played since the start of mankind.


Scriptkiddies are not just young people, scriptkiddies are people that believe that the internet is a playground, and they often operate without knowing what they are doing.

When: ScriptKiddies
When: When they find a new plug and play tool 
Why: For the fun and personal (branding) image
What: Hahaha, anything and hit button
Where: Home, school, shopping malls and fast food places, when there is an opportunity
Who: People that blindly trust a (hacking) tool
How: Hit the buttonnnn!
Ethical: No, stupid, yes.

If you liked this post, please hit the share button!

Share this information
Categories: Introductions

Reza Rafati

Founder of Cyberwarzone.com.