The term was coined by hacker culture theorist Richard Stallman to contrast the exploitative hacker with the white hat hacker who hacks protectively by drawing attention to vulnerabilities in computer systems that require repair. The black hat/white hat terminology originates in the Western genre of popular American culture, in which black and white hats denote villainous and heroic cowboys respectively.
Black hat hackers are the stereotypically illegal hacking groups often portrayed in popular culture, and are "the epitome of all that the public fears in a computer criminal". Black hat hackers break into secure networks to destroy, modify, or steal data, or to make the networks unusable for authorized network users.
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