Hacking for Good: White Hat Hackers
Oftentimes, the word “hacker” is considered synonymous with shady characters that use technology to bring harm to others, but the definition of the word actually includes anyone who is able to skirt through network and device security measures using their knowledge of computer systems.
Hacking as an activity isn’t illegal, and secondary education classes are offered for those seeking to become ethical hackers.
Ethical hacking sounds like an oxymoron, but it’s actually a valuable tool in the constant fight against malicious network attacks. White hat hackers are computer and security specialists who attempt to hack into commercial and government networks in order to find unseen vulnerabilities.
They possess the same skills and tools as a black hat hacker, or one that is hacking to harm a company, but opt to use them for the betterment of the businesses that hire them.
What truly separates white hat and black hat hackers is intention.
Hiring a Hacker
From April 18, 2016 to May 12, 2016, the US Department of Defense’s Digital Service team invited people across the nation to “Hack the Pentagon.” It was the first time in the history of the United States government that a “bug bounty” was offered. A mere 13 minutes after registration was complete, a report arrived with a noted vulnerability. Within six hours, 200 more reports flooded in.
From the program website: “More than 1,400 participants registered to take part in Hack the Pentagon. Of those, 250 eligible hackers submitted a vulnerability report. Out of all the submissions, 138 were found to be ‘legitimate, unique and eligible for a bounty,’ and resolved according to [former] Defense Secretary Ash Carter. Those vulnerabilities earned $75,000 in total bounty rewards, paid promptly by HackerOne at the conclusion of the program.”
Hack the Pentagon was so successful that the Department of Defense continued to work with HackerOne to impact other departments, including the United States Army. More importantly, the initiative led to the creation of the Vulnerability Disclosure policy, giving white hat hackers immunity from legal recourse for disclosing vulnerabilities in any DoD public-facing system.
Former Secretary of Defense had this to say following the success of the program:
“We know that state-sponsored actors and black-hat hackers want to challenge and exploit our networks. We know that. What we didn’t fully appreciate before this pilot was how many white-hat hackers there are who want to make a difference, who want to help keep our people and our nation safer.”
White Hat Hackers for Good
On some levels, an excellent cyber security consultant works in much the same way as white hat hacker. By exploring and exploiting your network on the hunt for weaknesses, we are able to offer real-world, executable actions to keep you safe from those who wish to do your business harm. Businesses and corporations benefit from the knowledge of white hat hackers and cyber security experts alike.