Ethical Hackers Prevent Data Breaches

As opposed to black hat hacking, which often causes data breaches in companies, white hat hacking seeks to prevent data breaches, whether solicited by the company or unsolicited. The majority of the time, white hack hackers are independent contractors, university level students, or even teenagers, according to Julia Kanouse, CEO of the Illinois Technology Association. Most ethical hackers aren’t seeking money, but rather a story with the company’s name in it, she continued.

Many companies, however, aren’t prepared for help from ethical hackers and may not have a procedure put in place. In an interview with Security Baron, Kanouse cited the example of a casino gaming company that ignored ethical hackers’ warnings about a weakness in their system. Later, the hackers posted their findings on social media, “blurring the lines between ethical and unethical, as other bad guys might be able to take advantage of [the weakness]”, Kanouse told Security Baron.

To prevent this from happening, Kanouse recommends that companies have a standard procedure to deal with inbound disclosures in terms of how investigation and compensation work. Some companies even offer a “bug bounty” where they offer monetary compensation to anyone who can find a bug within their system. Regardless of whether a company has a “bug bounty”, they should be prepared to listen to ethical hackers and compensate them in some way, be it with money or company merchandise.

Ethical Hacking

Security Breaches Affect Millions

As security breaches become more common, companies must be open to help from ethical hackers, Kanouse explained to Security Baron. Last spring, hackers stole over five million debit and credit card numbers from Saks Fifth Avenue and Lord & Taylor, according to a cybersecurity firm. Soon after that, Fin7, a hacking syndicate, acquired the data and has sold tens of thousands of records, compromising the stores’ entire networks, most of which were from New York and New Jersey locations.

Similarly, T-Mobile’s security breach affected over two million customers last August. After T-Mobile’s internal cybersecurity department discovered the beach, they reported the hacking to authorities and disclosed it to its users. Despite these actions, many user passwords were compromised. Even with cybersecurity measures, companies can still be at risk of data breaches. Ethical hacking serves to prevent security breaches, whether the company solicits their help or not.

Aliza Vigderman

Aliza Vigderman

Aliza is a journalist living in Brooklyn, New York. Throughout her career, her work has spanned many intersections within the tech industry. At SquareFoot, a New York-based real estate technology company, she wrote about the ways in which technology has changed the real estate industry, as well as the challenges that business owners face when they want to invest in property. At, an education technology website, Aliza created digital content for lifelong learners, exploring the ways in which technology has democratized education. Additionally, she has written articles for The Huffington Post as well as her own content on Medium, the online publishing platform. Aliza’s love of journalism and research stems from the excellent Journalism program at Brandeis University. At Brandeis, Aliza interned as a research assistant at the Schuster Institute for Investigative Journalism, a non-profit “news room without walls”. There, Aliza was paired with an investigative journalist and used academic databases to obtain data on everything from the suicide rates in Bhutan to local Boston court cases. Her last position was as an account executive at Yelp, educating business owners on the power of technology to increase revenue. Throughout, however, her heart remained with tech journalism, and she’s thrilled to be writing for Security Baron. When she’s not keeping afloat of the latest tech trends, Aliza likes to cook, read, and write. A former high school “Class Clown,” Aliza has completed two feature-length screenplays, a pilot, and countless comedic sketches. On her days off you can find her relaxing in Prospect Park, trying the latest flavors at Ample Hills Ice Cream, and spending time with friends and family.

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