Ethical Hacking, an oxymoron?

Hackers are bad! That’s a fact, isn’t it? They breach the toughest security systems, they steal private data and compromise the safety of millions of innocent computer users, or well – at least the cyber safety.

This is what I strongly believed until very recently. Intriguing profession, too, though. While considering whether or not to write a blog post on hacking, I came across a puzzling term that opened a window to a whole new concept: Ethical Hacking.

It does sound at first like a bad joke or an oxymoron, but it is an actual profession.

According to a blogger “The term Ethical Hacking means-Hacking by keeping Ethics along or in other words Ethical Hacking is done not to harm anyone rather it is done for the benefits.”

There is a great difference between Hacking and Ethical Hacking. People who perform Ethical Hacking are called White Hats and those who perform bad Hacking are called Black Hats. But what is it that they do differently?

The blogger goes on to explain that ethical hacking is all about testing the security systems of companies. Basically, a way of securing systems against the possible impact of hackers by running through all possible scenarios.

A different blogger writes that there are 3 commandments for ethical hackers:

  1. Respect privacy. This is probably the thin line that separated a white hat from a black hat.
  2. Never ever crash your systems. There seems to be a considerable risk of harming your own system in the process of trying to penetrate others.
  3. Put your companies’ priorities and interests on top of everything. This means, not to take any hidden personal benefit from accessing the systems, which would of course make a black hat in an instant.

Now that I have managed to establish a basic outline of what ethical hacking is all about, I would like to, at the end of this post, look at whether it can actually be pursued as a proper profession.

Googling the term shows that there is an actual degree, the CEH (Certified Ethical Hacker) that one can obtain. Fascinating! There are numerous courses out there, which ultimately certify you to hack into companies’ systems (on contract of course) as a precautionary measure to the real baddies: the black hats!

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2 Responses to Ethical Hacking, an oxymoron?

  1. fannysia says:

    Hello johan! This post is amazing, firstly i never ever knew there was something called an ethical hacker and what more, it could be a profession! and i really like how you offered links to tell your story. i like the part of the 3 commandments especially! i went out to google blogs and here, i’ve found a post that a professional ethical hacker has written and here i see how ethical hacking comes into place in our business! 🙂
    http://blogs.oracle.com/security/entry/wiki_security_an_ethical_hacke
    Thank you for the easy-to-follow, simple and extremely easy to understand post! (info tech terms like hacking etc sometimes bore me. but this is not! :))

  2. itgalina says:

    Dear Johann!
    Definitely a cool topic! Once I heard about the “nice hacking”, because a friend of mine does it. He tries to enter military systems and in most cases he still finds some mistakes in there, which could be used by e.g. terrorists. These commands for white hacking are really interesting. To me it seems to be very hard to fix a limit and to be honest if you already have the total access to all these data. Why not to make a little transfer from the companies money to your own acount?
    I really like your way of writing cause your phrases are short but significant and it is easy to read and never boring. Now I am excited how you will contniue on this topic?!

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