The black white and grey of hacking

Hackers fall into two main camps, working on opposite sides of the law: white hats and black hats. More formally, white hats are known as ethical hackers or penetration testers. They are employed to deliberately do what black hat hackers do, except that they do it with the full knowledge of the company in order to test its cyber defences, reinforce weak points and seal unlocked windows.

White hats today are increasingly sought after – and well rewarded – by corporations seeking added protection to secure sensitive data. As attacks grow more sophisticated and frequent, even with firewalls and antivirus software in place, the need to be able to fight cyber crime is beginning to sink in.

Black hats are really going after your personal data. When you think about banks, you think hackers want to steal money but what they’re really trying to steal is your identity.

“Healthcare companies don’t have as strong protection as banks do but the kind of data they have is very similar to what you have in a bank. Healthcare data is more rich because it has (a record) of your diseases and the things you’ve been treated for..

What’s also disconcerting is the fact that about 30 to 40 per cent of attacks are caused by insiders. So a company’s disgruntled staff could “open the backdoor and let the bad people in”.

The grey hats are complicated. They’re people who have not decided what their moral code is. Maybe they don’t want to be evil but they want to be rich and so sometimes, they will bend their morals.

Sometimes, grey hats don’t do it for profit but instead see what they do as a service, although not through authorized means. “The problem is that (out of) 20 vulnerabilities, he might give 10 to the client and sell the other 10 to the black hats for them to exploit,

The reality is that cyber crime can only grow in an increasingly connected, increasingly online world. It seems that the white hats will always be fighting a losing battle. But not all is lost when it comes to upholding the law.

The people on the good side of the law tend to be outnumbered by the baddies.