A hacker, as defined in the Merriam-Webster dictionary, is:
“an expert at programming and solving problems with a computer”. Also known as “a person who illegally gains access to and sometimes tampers with information in a computer system”.
However, is this the whole story? Are all hackers bad? The answer is… No. Today we are going to talk about a different kind of hackers, the white hat hackers, ethical hackers, or corporate hackers.
Over the past two decades, we witnessed a continuous storm of data breaches and it’s getting worse every day. Think about it. The internet became available for the public in 1991, and it became mainstream only 2 years later. In 2002 LinkedIn, the world’s largest social media platform for professionals was launched. Two years later, in 2004, Facebook became a thing.
Ever since then, we have been providing data to hackers just like your local 7/11 provides you with your morning coffee. However, in a crude way, this is another example of how software is actually feeding the world. In fact, it is another illustration of how technology creates new types of jobs we wouldn’t even think about.
To fear or to accept, that is the question
Cyber attacks and people committing them still take many of us aback. We are still shocked and appalled whenever we hear someone tried to steal data from Google or Facebook. Which in a way makes sense. Humans have a natural reflex to trust one another, we live in “packs”, so we have to. It also makes sense because we cherish our privacy and whenever something like this happens, we feel violated. The same way you would feel if someone broke into your home, your one safe place, and stole something very dear to you.
So, the actual question is not if we should fear or we should accept. But in fact, how can we accept something that we fear, but know very well it will happen? Well, the first step is to accept that there are people in the world who will stop at nothing to have the higher ground.
Information is a powerful currency
At the same time, this should not surprise us as much, since stealing information is a well-worn war tactic. Now, we are not saying we are at war with hackers, or the internet. But just like in a war, information is extremely valuable, so naturally, we should expect burglars.
Think about it, even in ancient times, messengers were hunted down and killed for the information they were carrying. After the first world war, the Germans created Enigma, an almost unbreakable coding machine just to protect their information. Scouts and spies were vital, as they would gather crucial information about another country, even after the war ended.
In the business world, we have corporate spies, whose job is infiltrating rival companies. There they collect as much data as possible and provide a “competitive advantage” for their employer. Of course, industrial espionage is illegal, but it still exists to this day.
Standing our ground
You can look at hackers as freelancing corporate spies. They steal information from others for their own gain, whether they sell the data to other companies, or they ransom it. Therefore, online businesses invest more and more in building secure platforms, that ensure the privacy of their users. However, in order to stop a catastrophe, you must first understand and expect it.
So if you run an online business of your own, take a second or two and ask yourself, how would your platform be breached? How would a person, or persons go about and steal your user data?
At first glance, these may seem like simple questions, but the more you think about it, the more answers you will find. Even if you ask yourself “why would anyone want my user data?”, there are probably at least 20 reasons.
What can you do to protect your clientele from being stripped of their privacy? Well, of course, you start with security systems. You should buy an SSL certificate, have secure data backups, encrypted passwords and so on. But on top of that, you can hire an ethical hacker.
Ethical hackers, using talents for good
Never expected hacking being combined with ethics? Well, we are always happy to surprise you. Ethical hacking is actually a thing! Ethical hackers are hired by companies to look for flaws and vulnerabilities of their digital systems, networks and system infrastructure. By doing so, they not only evaluate the security but also propose improvements.
This job might not seem as important as it actually is. But we live in a digital age, where most of the information about us is stored and shared online. That is the main reason why we need people like ethical hackers, that make sure our money, medical information, and any other private information are safe.
Wondering if being an ethical hacker is a lucrative job? Well, all we will say is that the average salary of a certified hacker in the US is around 90 000 dollars per year. The average income per person in the United States is US$44.564. So you can draw your own conclusions.
However, those interested in becoming a corporate hacker have to go through training and pass an exam before they can claim they are a certified hacker.
Job description for an ethical hacker
So, now that we know they exist and they are on our side, what does an ethical hacker do? Well, among other tasks they could perform, ethical hackers usually:
- Scan systems for open ports – Ports, as the name implies, are virtual doors that allow data in and out of your system. So your hacker will find open ports and secure them.
- Scan internal chats, trashed data etc. – Every business has an internal chat system, like Slack or Asana. Through these systems, we share passwords and sensitive information. So ethical hackers go through this information and make sure it is either deleted forever or safely encrypted and stored in a protected environment.
- Examine plugins and patch installations – Many systems, especially CMSs use third-party dependencies, such as plugins or authentication services. Hackers look at these systems, update and secure them so others don’t access your data through them.
- Stress test your security systems – SSL certificates and other such security systems have their faults. So it’s the job of the hacker to stress test them and find vulnerable points, then fix them.
- Human error/malicious behavior – It may have not occurred to you, but some employees could, willing or not, put your data at risk. Again, it is the hacker’s job to find potential damaging avenues through which employees could harm you and your users, and block them.
- Spring cleaning – Finally, hackers are most often employed to do a “spring cleaning”. This means that they check for everything from cracked encryptions or hijacked servers and application to “suspicious” networks. When they find them they fix them and your system is secure again.
The moral of the story
As you can see, not all hackers are bad. It simply depends on the person and their life choices. In fact, ethical hackers are a vital part of your business infrastructure and may save you a lot of money in the long run. By employing an ethical hacker, you make sure your users and their data are safe, hence you keep them happy. The more secure your clients feel, the more they trust you, and the more loyal they become. In the end, it is a win-win-win situation for all of us.
However, before you employ an ethical hacker, you need a web or mobile application first. For this, Wiredelta is here to help. If you have an idea of how to start your own digital business contact us, and let’s have a chat. We can transform your idea into a rock solid solution.
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