Colors are nice. They bring life to things and add an aesthetic touch to elements in life in a way that replicates the meanings and goals intended. Our main two colors for today are people's favorites, us as well to be honest. But, we're not here to talk about them from an artistic point of view. After all, this is a tech blog so it must have to do with something that is technology related. Today, we're talking about hats
, not the ones you wear on your head, nope. Rather, the ones worn by hackers and ethical hackers, also known as "black hat hackers"
and "white hat hackers"
. Black and white as in "good" and "evil", but when is it considered good and ethical and when is not? Let's take a look at it.
What is Hacking?
Questioning the fact whether or not hacking is appropriate was not a thing till the term ethical hacking showed up on the surface. Yet, before we dig more into ethical hacking and what it means, let's explain more about hacking; the original term we're all familiar with and use. Hacking is defined as the attempted act of trying to gain access or control over a computer system or a network for malicious purposes.
This includes the intention to steal data, change data, delete data, cause harm and damage intentionally, blackmail, and abuse to gain something in return. While these tend to be the most common motives for black hat hackers, oftentimes, some do it for fun and the sole purpose of being nothing but a bad human being who finds happiness in others' misery. This latter type of hackers is usually worse because they don't really have a reason for their wrongdoings, thus negotiating with them is fruitless no matter the tactics used to win them over.
Who is Their Target?
It is the goal of hackers to gain unauthorized access to something. Hence, anyone starting from big governmental institutions up to mundane people just chilling at home is at risk of being their next target. Hacking attempts may be random as in, there is no specific reason why a certain person has been targeted, or they could be well-managed like the huge cybersecurity attacks huge companies face each year.
In most scenarios, hackers work solo but with the increasing use of technology and rapid neglect of following tactful privacy and security measures, we started seeing more of them working in groups and in solidarity to make the attacks more impactful and powerful. Especially, if the target is a high-value victim such as Mailchimp
, and Microsoft
who all have fallen prey to these internet predators.
How do They do it?
Black hat hackers do what they do by finding loopholes and attacking them. These are usually found on smart devices, webcams, laptops, computers, software applications, emails, device photos, routers, networks, and more. They gain access by implementing methods
that are best suited to the hacking goals they have in mind. Therefore, it could be distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) assaults, phishing, keyloggers, viruses and Trojans, cookie theft, and more. Thereby, hacking methods range from highly intricate ones with huge goals to simple methods such as clicking untrusted links that facilitate the access of any device’s data.
What is Ethical Hacking?
The concept remains the same with just a change in motives. Ethical hacking mimics what hackers usually do but for a legitimate reason that allows them to perform these actions. The activities white hat hackers execute are done to identify vulnerabilities usually found in networks and computer systems. They conduct a full plan to test the security measures and privacy protocols applied by mimicking attempted attacks that black hat hackers may use. This enables them to run a thorough test of the system's performance, study its weak points, and determine what areas need improvement. Therefore, it's a form of authorized access to a network or a device but for ethical purposes.
What Makes Ethical Hacking Ethical?
What makes white hackers' actions ethical is their use of the power they have to do good instead of evil. White hackers are no less qualified than black hat hackers at all. Yet, they choose not to harm and instead, they collaborate with organizations and institutions to combat cybercrimes and mitigate the potential risks any existing security holes may cause. This, however, sometimes places more restrictions on them as they're only allowed to work on the points agreed on with the organization.
Therefore, if the organization refuses the white hacker's attempt to perform a certain attack, the white hat hacker cannot perform it unless it is agreed on. Additionally, what white hackers do is an actual job which means it comes with contracts and rules. Hence, considering the sensitive nature of their work they might be required to sign a non-disclosure agreement to guarantee the organization's sensitive data stays protected and concealed.
With cyber security crimes' prevalent widespread comes the need for innovative solutions to battle these attempts. And what better way to fight evil than evil but with a magic dust of goodness? Not all heroes wear capes, but the cybercrime nightingales wear white ones. White hat hackers are playing a huge role in life and from now on their role will be even higher in demand as they help organizations address security weaknesses and be prepared to fight back any malicious hacking attempts performed by black hat hackers.
White hat hackers prove to the world that even bad practices can be turned into something good and ethical. This leaves our hopes for humanity and the tech community in particular high and alive for years to come if society understands the difference better between both terms and invests the young talents in roles that bring advantages instead of losing such brilliant brains to misguided behaviors. Overall, ethical hacking is a complex issue that requires careful consideration of its potential. However, a fact that no one can deny is how it can be turned into a valuable tool in the fight against cybercrimes.