Is it Right For You?
Dr. Lynne Williams
April 10, 2012
With the growth of the Internet, online conveniences, social networks, file sharing, email, and all the other cool usages the net provides us, there are some pitfalls that must be considered. One of the great things about the Internet is we can shop, work, play and communicate all in the privacy of our own homes with as much anonymity as we wish. Unfortunately, not only has this led to the rise of new businesses and opportunities, but it has also led to a whole different type of crime, cyber crime. Hackers who can steal your information from just about anywhere in the world and don’t need masks and trench coats to hide their identities. Viruses, malware, email scams and the ever-popular prince from Tanzania are all potential risks to your personal security and data, while most of the time a very smart hacker is simply banging away at their keyboard reaping the benefits of our naivety.
As with most traditional crimes it seems the bad guys are always one step ahead and almost impossible to cut off at the pass. This is where the “ethical” hacker can ride their white horse into an organization and save the distressed princess. Getting back to reality, we will discuss what ethical hacking consists of, how they may help an organization, considerations that need to be looked at when hiring a hacker, a few examples of real world hackers being hired to do a legitimate job and some opinions on whether this concept is a good idea. It’s not quite the “if you can’t beat them join them” scenario, but will the “if you can’t beat them hire them” attitude be prosperous or crash and burn?
Hacking has a multitude of meanings and frankly, the meaning has evolved over the years. According to The New Hackers dictionary, the original meaning of hacker was defined as: HACKER noun 1. A person who enjoys learning the details of computer systems and how to stretch their capabilities—as opposed to most users of computers, who prefer to learn only the minimum amount necessary. 2. One who programs enthusiastically or who enjoys programming rather than just theorizing about programming.
Todays’ definition of hacker came from the early days of computer usage when they were so expensive that access to computers was very limited. Initially the “hack” was to simply gain access to computer time with stolen user names and passwords. After this breach was discovered the administrator would patch the hole and some of these hackers would get rather annoyed then end up implanting malicious code onto the system. As these malicious attacks grew, the media started to report on them to the public and reported the breaches were conducted by, at the time, the inaccurate term of “hacker” (McCelland, 2007).
With the evolution of hacking and the hiring of hackers into legitimate companies in order to help with system security the terms themselves have also evolved with the good guys being called “ethical hackers” and the bad guys being defined as “criminal hackers”. Ethical hackers are also known as “white hat” hackers with the “criminal hackers” being dubbed “black hat” hackers. The correlation between the good guys and bad guys of old westerns makes it very easy for non-technical people to understand the difference. This integration into society and the business world has very much muddied the waters in terms of the hacking “industry”.
What is Ethical Hacking?
With the growth and evolution of the Internet, corporations and consumers do an extraordinary amount of business online and the concern over the security of their information is of grave concern. After security breaches started resulting in financial losses for an organization more...