Posted by & filed under cyber terroism, cyber war, EXAM ARTICLE, hackers.

Description: Computer hacking has always been a pursuit driven more by geeky passion than a quest for profits. But it is now becoming a pathway to earning serious money.


Date: Oct 10, 2011

A decade ago, a skilled hacker who discovered a software security flaw had two choices: he could tell the company about the problem, or he could publish his findings. The former brought the risk that the company could quietly fix the problem, yielding nothing for the clever hacker who brought it to light. The latter brought praise from his peers, but also possible accusations that he was aiding criminals. READ REST OF STORY

Questions for discussion:

  1. Do you see this development of a market for hackers, a positive development for the IS industry? Why? Why not?

2.  Are their any ethics that hackers should have in order to bring their skill to a legal market for their services?

28 Responses to “Hackers learn to ditch black hats for white collar security jobs”

  1. Randy Bonham

    The internet brought a small group of ostracized teenagers into a realm were there accomplishments and skills became a method for social acceptance. The “geek” world loved to demonstrate their superiority to each other through the creation and destruction of programs. Normally hackers attacks were harmless in nature and served primarily as a sort of computer “pissing contest” amongst there peers. These contests lead to online communities where hackers would discuss their work. Sometimes these communities were valuable, and creative. Some of the most used freeware spawned from these communities, but there primary motivation was never profit. In a lot of hacker social circles corporations and governments were the targets because they represented the control that hackers despised. The concept of a free and open internet was ideal and government regulations that imposed control were often used as excuses in their attacks. The monetization of the internet was often used to explain the attacks on corporations. Through this ideal and there common social status hackers were a group that were somewhat united. In the new era where hackers become programmers for major corporations, or the “security guards” of government, hackers have achieved significant status recognition. The question is at what cost, what happens when the freedom fighters of the internet become extinct?

  2. Chris Schulz

    As long as these hackers are using their abilities for good use I see no problem in what they do. If they can find a way to make sites that I use to make financial transactions more secure I am all game for them. The thing is there is no bragging rights for helping corporations secure their websites amongst other hackers, which may prevent some hackers from helping these corporations out. The problem comes when they use their hacking abilities to sabotage sites or gain personal information like credit card numbers. In a few steps these hackers can ruin countless amounts of people’s lives in the form of identity theft. People that they have never even met and should have no problems with are all the sudden a victim of a crime that if not dealt with quickly cost’s them and the banks huge amounts of money. In a world where we are ever reliant on the internet we need to make sure that the security of these sites are up to par with the hackers abilities to break into them. To do this corporations must be able to reach out to these hackers and “convert” them to in order to help them out.

  3. Chris G

    I do not see the development of a market for hackers as a positive development for the IS industry. Although this could be see as too idealistic, I think that there should be no need for hackers and that hackers should be punished for intruding, no matter their reasons. However, this is not a perfect world that we live in and therefore there is a need for white-collar hackers in order to crack down on the black hatters. I think that as long as the white-collar hackers are not performing any criminal activities and milking both sides of the law, then a market for hackers is a necessary development for the IS industry in order to combat crime. As for the ethics that hackers should have in order to bring their skill to a legal market for their services, I believe that they should not have profited in any way through illegal activities prior to switching sides and working for corporations, governments etc. That is, if they were just doing it because they are “geeks” and just do it as a challenge, like doing a puzzle, then I have no problem letting the switch sides. If they have profited from their actions illegally, than I do not think they should be getting jobs, but rather sent to jail for life.

  4. Mark Dicks

    The way I see it, if something is built there are always ways to break it. Some corporations will be big money to see how insecure their company is. The government will especially take advantage of hackers to see how their system is flawed and to see how they can use to further their interest.

  5. Kashika Bhatia

    Twenty years ago, I do not believe anyone could have thought about how technology could advance to where it is today. But with such advancement, there needs to be education and a smaller digital divide. This unfortunately is still a problem as technology is only going to get more advanced and heavier on the wallet. I believe the market for hackers is growing more than ever today with the possibilities for companies to have fewer security flaws, for the government to crack military codes, and for the common man, maybe hack into locked phones. But there can only be a positive development in this market if ethical boundaries are understood and when special laws are made for ensure that the hacking is not causing great harm such as human lives being in danger (example of Wiki leaks). Today, hackers can be used to stop a number of crimes which happen online such as identity theft, blackmail, etc. It is hard for me to say if I am for or against it since I think that hackers can be used in positive developments such as helping reduce cybercrimes, but at the same time can cause harm, such as emptying out bank accounts. Positive development can be encouraged however as younger generation become more aware of the ethical and legal consequences connected with hacking and choose which path they want to lead. With understanding the ethical dilemmas, we can have hackers work for intelligence services, crime units and have them be helpful to society and lead productive lives.

  6. Chris Inglis

    I do not see this as a positive development for the IS industry. Through this developing market for hackers it is increasing the opportunity and possibity for hackers to attack and succeed. The more chances they will get with a greater market, and the majority of these people are not going to seek out the ethical or legal decision to make, they are going to do whatever they feel like doing with money being the motivator or not.
    Absolutely there are ethics that hackers should have in order to bring their skills to a legal market. Ethics are instrumental in today’s world and today’s economy. To comment on the ethics more specifically I think that they should have moral ethics which in the grand scheme of things serve the greater good and never just them personally. These ethics need to be implemented for these possible hacker recruits, especially in an industry with so much money/products to be stolen or important information to acquire.

  7. Daniel Bird

    I think many hackers start out using their skills because they can. They tend to be geeky, curious individuals that learn their computer skills from a very young age. In this day and age I feel that these individuals are both necessary, and talented. Companies have suffered serious inconveniences and large amounts of money have been lost because of hackers. Many of the inconveniences people go through are based on the negative ethics of some hackers. There are always going to be hackers that have both good and malicious motives. I think that hackers should have good ethics when working in a legal market; however do not think rules for hiring these individuals should be too stringent. Hackers often gain their skills from doing things on the internet that they probably shouldn’t be doing. If an individual has promised to be trustworthy and can prove this while working in a company, I feel this is a positive thing regardless of what decisions the individual has made in the past. The shift from hackers working in black hat jobs, to those working in white collar security jobs is essential. Hackers are talented individuals that need to be utilized by society and their skills need to be recognized regardless of where they obtained them.

  8. Regan Smiley

    I’m not so sure this really is a positive thing for the information systems industry. Whenever you are developing a market for something the more people will want to get into it. Of course there are those out there who will want to get int o help out industries and attempt to figure out possible ways of hacking and to stop them from occuring. But like I said more and more people will want to get into it and become aware of it. And always with the good comes the bad. If more people are aware of certain aspect of companies they will try to take advantage of them. Just as the article states about the fellow who hacked into the company and had two choices to make. The one was the ethical choice to inform the company so they could fix the problem. Or he could have sold the information and probably made a pretty penny in a highly unethical manner. This is how hackers and ethics are tied into one another. You hardly see the words hacker and ethical referred to in the same context and I don’t see this being the case in the long run.

  9. Mark Dicks

    This is the way I see it: if something is built, there are always ways to break it no matter how secure a company’s security system may be (there are always flaws) and there are always people who will use their skills and talent to break into it. You are always going to have people who will hack just for something to do and disgruntled employees who want to get revenge on a company. I don’t really see the market for the hackers as a positive influence as a good thing for the Information Systems industry, as there a few advantages to this with many disadvantages. Although one advantage could be if there were hired on by a criminal agency to use their skills at catching criminals. People are always going to be hacking with their own agendas in mind. Some corporations will be big money to see how insecure their company is and to also gain an advantage in the marketplace to get the upper hand on competition. The government will especially take advantage of hackers to see how bad their security systems may be flawed and to see how they can then use hackers to further their own political interest and to wield influence over others.

  10. Erin Mitchell

    For me, the idea of hacking is beyond anything I could even think of doing. I don’t even have half the computer skills to ‘hack’ and if I did, I couldn’t dream of it. Computer hacking is just another way of committing a crime. What scares me is that these people are able to hack into top security places and take valuable information. This makes me think that nothing is ever safe. I personally like to believe that whenever I log into something on my computer, that it is safe and that nothing will be compromised. But, this article and lessons that I have learned in class are changing my perspective on the matter. Nothing is completely safe anymore. With the idea that hackers are using their skills to not only gain monetary value, but to possibly harm a political situation, it has me very worried for where this world is headed.

  11. Richard Infante

    the market for hackers is a positive development because it forces businesses and organizations to keep their systems the safest and secure as possible. knowing the hackers can not get into my bank or government and getting personal information is a good thing. it forces a increase in research and development in more sophisticated security.
    i think the only ethics that a hacker needs to show is honesty, telling a company that their security system is flawed rather than stealing or selling their information.

  12. Kaitlyn Boyle

    I see the development of a market for hackers as a positive development for the IS industry. This is because, who knows how to protect a system better than someone who can crack it? It makes sense for large corporations to hire the people who know how to break into systems best, to create a security system to help prevent other hacking from occurring in the first place. People who go to university, get a degree, and get hired right away might not see all of the dirty little secrets that those who have hacked for years know about. In my eyes corporations with high security needs and the government especially would be ignorant to not hire those who have hacked complex security systems in the past. Just because someone knows how to hack doesn’t mean he or she is immediately a criminal. People can Google these things nowadays. Although I do believe that in order for hackers to take their skills to a legal marketplace they have to be morally inclined to use the information that businesses give them in the most ethical way possible not for their own benefit.

  13. Breanne Marton

    I think that the developing market for hackers is a positive move for information systems as it will bring about an increase in the security of software programs. I think that by having skilled hackers actually attempting to hack into a system will cause the creators of the system or program to write their system in a more secure manner and will enable them to have a “second chance” at rewriting their program once the flaws have been discovered. This will cause a reduction in the amount of security threats to the system’s software as there will be fewer amounts of security issues to prevent. However, some of these hackers may claim to be working for good, but this does not necessarily prove true in every case. Although they claim to not be working for the money of it, some of these hackers may use this as a type of ransom against the company for a fee. Without being hired on initially to discovery security issues, these hackers may have malicious intent and threaten to either be bought out or to give out their security secrets to other malicious hackers. This could overall cause greater problems for companies than initially thought.

  14. Sam Chen

    During technology developing, the internet crime is also increasing. According to news, the United Kingdom loses 27 billion pound for every-year. Corporates are the biggest victims during internet crime. The average lose money by internet crime is 21 billion pound. Moreover, because of internet crime British people lose 3.1 billion pound and British government loses 2.2 billion pound every year too. In the report, it shows the main loss of internet crime is stealing intelligent property. It is 9.2 billion pound, 7.6 billion pound from spy activity, 2.2 billion pound from extortion, 1.3 billion pound from direct steal though internet and 1 billion pound from stealing customers’ information. The most serious victims businesses are pharmacy, electric, communication, chemistry and biochemistry. Hence, we can see internet crime is very serious in the United Kingdom. However, this phenomenon is not only happened in the United Kingdom, it is all over the world. The money lose by internet crime is 27 billion pound “only” in the United Kingdom. Can you image how much money loses in all over the world? It is over 114 billion U.S. dollar. The victims are over 431 million people (more than the victim by drug). Clearly, internet protection is a very big thing that everyone should care about.

  15. Mayowa Ashade

    2. Many large companies, such as IBM, maintain employee teams of ethical hackers for critical security measure, a single interruption or intrusion could cause massive financial problems Consequently, a company main goal
    in hiring ethical hackers is to test for vulnerabilities and mitigate them or defend against them.Ethical hacking is rapidly becoming an accepted business practice. Ethical hacker should be able to test a security system and use the same methods as their less principled counterparts, but report problems instead of taking advantage of them.

  16. Rick Sharma

    I definitely see it as a positive development for Information Systems. The fact that there are regular people (hackers) out there who can put their brains to use and be successful with it takes a lot of skill. It’s positive because as a result of the motivation and curiosity these individuals dwell on finding ways to be innovative. These insightful minds could actually help companies strengthen their systems as a whole. However, giving them incentives could actually benefit the companies in the long run. As for ethics, the companies that get hacked should find a way to connect with the hacker so as to work something out. If someone tells another person it’s impossible to do this, I’m sure that person would want to try it and figure out a way around it, and once they do find a way there should be an incentive in it to prevent using it in the wrong way.

  17. Kelsey K

    Hacking and all the things that go along with “secretly getting into ones security system” is something I am extremely unfamiliar with. But, Hackers to me seem like an invasion of privacy and regarding the second question, I do think that there are some ethical issues to intentionally invading into a computer system to achieve and locate information…even if it is for good use. It seems like any “secretive” invasion of privacy— and therefore invasion of a computer systems security—has ethical issues.
    It’s amazing to me that people are actually able to hack into computer systems…..only because I am so unfamiliar with it. I am also not sure that we could call hacking to be “used for good things”—because it is secretive. But it is obvious that it could become more fitting if it was used in a beneficial way, and as an appropriate way to obtain information and facts.

  18. Nicole Acheson

    I believe the biggest problem is that, both hackers and security are continuing to grow at the same rate. As soon as more innovative and advanced security is created, hackers have already found a way to breach it. It’s always going be a battle that cannot be won.

  19. Brett Z

    Personally, I do not see this development for hackers a positive to the Information Systems industry. In fact, I am a strong believer that all hacking and viruses should be stopped. At one point, and still somewhat do, thought that Anti-virus companies were producing the viruses so they had a reason to buy software. With hackers, invasion of information is simply an invasion of privacy and should be considered illegal world-wide. Information should be intended for those who only require it.

    Hacking and hackers should be at least considered unethical. In this case, hackers should simply inform the company of the flaws rather than hacking and potentially costing the company a fortune.

  20. brett pudwell

    I think this trend will do nothing but good for the information technologies industries. The only way to reveal the weaknesses in these big sites is to hire the people who are capable of exposing them to do just that, although privately instead of publicly. I think the value of such hackers to these businesses are undeniable. The threat of non hired hackers exposing a companies secrets is much more of a risk than the cost of hiring people to do that for them. As demonstrated by incidents such as wiki leaks, the threat of having a companies innermost secrets becoming public can ruin a company for good. I don’t think the hackers should have any special morals in order to be hired by these big companies. The most anyone can do in life is work to the best of their abilities with the skills they were given. If an individual has the skills necessary to hack into these sites, then why not profit from them. After all, it is better than the individuals hacking them on their own and putting the information on the web for everyone to see. Overall, I believe this is a great movement for both the information technologies sector and the hackers themselves.

  21. Yanmei Sun

    Since we have the Internet, people always associated computer hackers with computer viruses.Hackers have been using their superb abilities and technologies made thousands of computer virus to harm the information society.But,who can promise that bad guys will never ever be changed? Therefore, I would say there is a development of a market for hackers, and and positive development for the IS industry. Based on the article we can see that hackers seem like have more talent to discover software security flaws. Also “the intelligence agencies, defence contractors and criminal gangs are all willing to pay to find out about security flaws – and ways to exploit them.” If computer companies and software companies can collaborate with computer hackers,it will be a huge contribution for the IS industry.

    Also, I think there are some ethics that hackers should have in order to bring their skill to a legal market for their services.All in all, nobody could guarantee that hackers would not do any harm to information society again even if after they worked with computer companies or software companies.

  22. Wale Obateru

    I see this development as a positive one. First of all, people who sit by the computers for hours and days trying to break into highly secured websites should be given an incentive to direct their efforts and energy into something more productive rather than damaging. This hackers are highly intelligent people whose talents should not be allowed to waste or used for negative acts. There is therefore need for companies who have the need for highly secured networks to employ them to be part of their team. This way they can use their knowledge in ensuring that no one breaks into the company’s website. Based on thier knowledge and skills of hacking, it would be fairly easy for them to know the various schemes used by hackers and help ensure proper securing of the networks. Giving them Jobs also help reduce the rate of cyber crimes in our society. The IS industry also needs such talents to bring about innovations in the technological world. There could also be some shortcomings involved in hiring hackers by companies or organizations. Hiring them could be a direct licence for them to have access to highly confidential files which is not healthy for the company. It is difficult to predict the intentions of these newly hired employees which is a major issue companies who have the intentions to hire them might face. Situations can also arise where other companies can file law suites against the new employee if he has in the past hacked into those companies’ websites and caused damage in the process.

  23. Pulkit Arora

    I definitely think that this is a positive program that they are starting to run for the IS industry because keeping hackers out will only benefit the company. Instead of using the skills of various for damaging a website, the hackers can do the same job but for a good purpose and get paid just as much. This program is a great way of keeping the sites secure and informative.

    The hackers should change their ethics because instead of something illegal, they are now helping companies and their customers with valuable information and more importantly a site that is secure. Each hacker should go through a training program and they should be monitored carefully because who knows when they might decide to go back to their ways when they are helping a company.

  24. Austen Murray

    As technology advances, so will the security around it. Information systems are always going to grow larger in order to provide more efficiency for the company’s internal and external environments. Hackers are always going to try and take advantage of a company’s weak spot. But in reality it keeps these corporations in shape. They have out information and they need to keep it safe with the latest, up to date software. They are always going to save money and it shouldn’t be in security software. Hackers are always going to be around, whither it is for bad or good these hackers are going to keep companies with valuable information on their toes which in turn is good for consumers. Hackers can in turn help companies, if they wanted to they could hire the greatest known hacker and see if he or she can break through their firewall, if the hacker can’t the software is up to date, if he can’t it is back to the drawing board. This would be an easier way to make sure everything is working properly and in turn create possibly a mutual relationship between the two sides.

  25. Mark

    I believe that there is definitely a demand and need for people that have these capabilities. If hackers are hired to try and crack a system to find ways to make the system more secure – that is beneficial. Society would worry less about privacy issues and business can rest easier knowing that their documents and such are mor safe.
    I realize that people are gaining these skills illegally, but you don’t really see a bunch of computer hacking courses around – do you? Even if we did have courses like that can you imagine the amount cyber crime that would exist. It would sky rocket in my opinion.
    This is one of those crazy things where we need people with these talents, but we definitly do not want to train people to do it. So with any ethical arguements begs the question – If we need individuals with hacking skills in this world, where else do you expect people to gain the skill?

  26. amanda K

    When i think of hackers i think of criminals. Hacking is something I would never consider doing myself. It kind of scares me that there are people out there that can hack into my personal information. Depending on how the hacker is using their skills it may be helpful for companies. For example It can drive them to get higher security protection. As the internet becomes more popular, I think we might start to see more hackers. It’s crazy that you can just Google how to hack into something and it will teach you. I think the biggest benefit of hackers is it forces you or your company to keep your security levels at the highest protection levels. Also having hackers work for your company may help to tell you if there is a flaw in your system and thus be able to fix it before it becomes potential target for other hackers.

  27. Jenny T

    I think the market for professional hackers is definitely a positive. If a company can hire on people who specialize in hacking and do it as a hobby, why wouldn’t they want to come in and do it for a living getting paid for it? No one knows the hacking world better than them and can probably do a better job than the government employees could. This is something they enjoy and probably are able to stay a step ahead of what is happening with the security of the internet. When it comes to ethical issues. Yes, obviously the hackers that are being hired and allowed access to companies programs shouldn’t be able to “hack” for their personal use and to gain personal information, but rather to help the company improve their security from the hackers that are out to cause harm. It does take a lot of trust to hire someone who potential once hacked your system, but if they are willing to put that behind them and more forward and use their abilities for the good of the company and do what is right, then I believe that it should be used as a profession and allow people who are good at something bad, change the dynamics and turn it into a positive.

  28. Garfield

    Oh my goodness! Impressive article dude!
    Thanks, However I am encountering problems with your RSS.
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