Not all hackers are Elliot Alderson from Mr. Robot, listening to Christian Slater telling them to disrupt society. And not all hackers want to steal things, although some do.
Some hackers actually want to use their curiosity and talents to help you stay more secure. That's called a white hat hacker.
Here are the top five things to know about ethical hacking:
- Hackers want to solve puzzles. Your problems are their puzzles. A hack is not a vulnerability per se. A good hack could also be a way to make data more accessible.
- It's scary. An ethical hacker may work the same as a black hat hacker, breaking systems, infiltrating secure areas and accessing data. The difference is they're doing it to tighten up your security. Even the Pentagon has a program for outsiders to "Hack the Pentagon."
- It's not cheap. These skills are in high demand from the good and the bad guys. So while the ethical hackers may turn away from big money in crime, they still expect a decent amount of compensation.
- Competition is motivation. Ethical hackers often live for the thrill of shutting down the intrusion attempts of others. In fact penetration testing can play out as a game between two teams of ethical hackers trying to see who can stop the other.
- You want ethical hackers involved in development. A good hacker has seen lots of tricks and can help stop some vulnerabilities before they start while you're developing your systems.
So definitely remember that not all hackers are bad guys and keep in mind you want your ethical hackers to find the way to sneak into your system before the bad guys do.
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Tom is an award-winning independent tech podcaster and host of regular tech news and information shows. Tom hosts Sword and Laser, a science fiction and fantasy podcast, and book club with Veronica Belmont. He also hosts Daily Tech News Show, covering the most important tech issues of the day with the smartest minds in technology.