Can Hackers Actually Help with Cyber Security?

Can Hackers Actually Help with Cyber Security?

September 9

Hackers have a bad reputation, but some hackers actually help people with cyber security. Hackers are depicted as people looking to steal data, deface websites or destroy data. However, as this infographic points out, there are different types of hackers– some simply want make the Internet a safer place. In fact, some hackers consider themselves “whitehat,” and they help people better secure data by identifying security holes before they become a popular place for hackers who would destroy or steal that data.

How Common Cyber Security Holes Propagate

Hackers are always looking for the next place to find a security hole. Hackers interested in exploiting security might purposely poke at online storage facilities to find the next security hole. To be the first hacker to find a security flaw in a system comes with some online “street cred.” The difference between the whitehat hacker and the blackhat hacker is dependent on what the hacker does after finding that security hole.

The blackhat hacker opens the security hole and takes advantage of the system. He may steal your data or destroy it. He might sell it on the black market if he can. After he finds a common security hole in a certain system, the blackhat hacker will share it in underground hacker circles, so others can take advantage of online disaster recovery systems.

However, the whitehat hacker plays a different role in security. The whitehat hacker will tell you he was able to access your data. If the security hole is in a common system like an operating system, the whitehat hacker will alert the proper people, so the security hole can be secured. This means the whitehat hacker will not tell others, and the security hole can’t be exploited by others.

Incentives for Hackers in Cyber Security

Some companies even give hackers incentives to find security holes in systems. One popular system is Google’s Bounty System. Google invites hackers to hack the company’s system, because the company believes that through paying hackers, they can find security holes and create a better, more secure system. Google pays hackers a bounty dependent on the severity of the security hole found by the hacker. The payout is contingent that the hacker does not publicize the hack until Google is able to properly secure the system and pay the hacker.

This type of bounty system has given Google some of the most secure systems around. Chrome, for instance, has been considered one of the most secure browsers you can use. Even Microsoft has finally acknowledged the benefits of such a system and recently added a bounty system to its software such as Microsoft Windows.

The next time you read an article on the evil ways of hackers, remember hackers could be one reason why systems you use are more secure.

Want more about cyber security? Check out “Cyber-attacks are wrecking the internet. What should we do?

Photo Credit: jeff_golden via Compfight cc