In the days of the black and white cinema, the world was, well, more “black and white.” You knew who the good guys and the bad guys were, even in the heat of gunfire or the dusty haze of a horse chase, no matter what direction they were facing, by the simple characteristic cowboy hat. The black hats harassed the local sheriff, robbed the bank, hijacked the train or ransomed the “damsel in distress.” The white hats came to the rescue. (Not to mention: the white hats always won). Was it overly simplistic? By today’s standards, perhaps, but it sure made the story easy to follow.
Flash forward to what must have been an unimaginable future: the sheriff (or 4-star general, in this case) is harassed when his email is compromised; the bank gets taken for $12 million, from the safety of a foreign shore and the anonymity of a computer; in a hotter property than trains, airplanes get grounded and the black hats sell their tactics to the highest bidder; oh, and that damsel in distress, being attacked by the black hats? She’s running for President of the United States of America.
With the stakes so high, businesses and high-profile individuals worldwide are looking for another means of protection.
A Developer Vs a Hacker
When you consider the roles of developers, you can understand why even the best funded software and devices are hackable. Microsoft, Apple, the NSA: they’ve all been hacked.
A software developer is focused on making your business run more smoothly and meeting your operational needs. It’s like the differing interests of an architect and an arsonist: the architect has standards for preventing a building from burning down, but an arsonist looks to exploit any flammability for nefarious purposes. You wouldn’t build many buildings if the architect had to hire arsonists on the construction team.
Yet, with so many fires, literally millions per day, hiring an arsonist (hacker) is starting to look like a better idea to many an architect (business).
Black Hats Vs White Hats
Black hat hackers are cyber criminals. They may work independently, as a hacker-for-hire. They may work for a government team, seeking to exploit the weaknesses of other countries and their businesses for purposes which they themselves might not even know. They sometimes work on teams through other connections, though they may not have even met each other IRL (in real life). Often they have monetary motivation, selling exploits on the cyber black market. Sometimes they have political motivation or general anarchist motivation, and may not even get paid for their exploits, choosing instead to make their tactics known to others in the cyber underground.
Hackers have an understanding of computers, coding and operations. They familiarize themselves with business communication channels and “think like the program” when they look for weaknesses or entrance points. Or they manufacture viruses and malware.
So what about someone who can “think like a hacker,” but isn’t interested in digital anarchy or computer-based exploits? That’s where you get vigilantes like the “online batman” or white hat hackers—individuals who use their ability to think like a hacker to make the cyberverse a more secure place.
Cyber Security Monitoring
Some of the largest software developers, government agencies and security companies are among the employers for white hat hackers. While the black hats continue to disrupt operations, they factually make more job opportunities for those who would rather not participate in criminal activity.
Cyber security developers employ white hat hackers to “think like the black hats” in creating security tools. Monitoring services hire white hat hackers to test exploits discovered on the cyber black market as well as prioritize cyber intelligence feeds, with an insider perspective on the potential risks that arise.
When you or your business hire a cyber security monitoring service, even if you do not personally employ a white hat hacker, you gain the inside scoop.
It may just save you from the cross-fire.