Updated April 8, 2023
What does White Hat Hacker Mean?
A white hat hacker is a computer security specialist who breaks into protected systems and networks to test and access their security. All hackers are not malicious. The skills of some of the hackers are used to protect the systems or networks against attackers. The hackers’ skills to attack the systems or networks to steal the data, break down the network, etc., are called black hat hackers. If there are any weaknesses in security, these hackers constantly work to find them out and try to fix them before the black hat hackers find them, and they can exploit them. Businesses employ white hat hackers to access and improve the security of the organization.
Is White Hat Hacking Illegal?
These hackers are also called ethical hackers. The technique to determine if the systems in the organization are secure or not is called penetration testing. Penetration testing is performed by the white hat hackers hired by the organization. Without penetration testing performed by the hackers, the organization would not know their weaknesses in security and cannot set up a defense against the cybercriminals trying to exploit the weaknesses of the organization.
The answer to the question if white hat hacking is legal or illegal is, it depends. The organization hiring a white hat hacker and gives authorization to the white hat hacker to check the security defenses of the organization justifies its action of hiring the white hat hacker and its action of giving authorization to the hacker to check all the security vulnerabilities of the organization by saying that it is the legal protection for the organization and it is in the best interest of the organization.
Companies grant permission to the hired white hat hackers to break into the system to identify the weaknesses in the security of the organization. In doing so, the hackers would have broken many laws with respect to the security of the organization, but the organization does not take this into account as white hat hacking is done in the best interest of the organization. The hackers do not bother about the laws they are breaking in the process of identifying the weaknesses and setting up the defense against these weaknesses to protect the organization from cybercriminals.
What are the Skills of White Hat Hackers?
The security departments of big organizations or the organizations of cybersecurity employ white hat hackers. They know how the cybercriminals find out the weaknesses in the security of the organization and how they operate to exploit the weaknesses; hence they know how to prevent the attacks caused by the cybercriminals. Bug bounties are offered by the big giants like Google, Microsoft, Facebook, etc., as a reward to the hackers or researchers if they discover network security holes. By such discovery, the companies can build a wall against the loopholes, thereby protecting themselves against cyber-attacks by cybercriminals.
The motivation for hackers is their curiosity to understand how things work, sneak around into security systems, and find a way to break down the system. Being white hat hacker, they will have to make a report of what they have explored with respect to the security of the organization and abide by the laws of the organization. There are white hat hackers whose genuine motivation is to eradicate cyber-attacks and cybercriminals, thereby making this world a more private and secure place.
Money and career are another motivating factor for white hat hackers to perform hacking. These hackers make a huge amount of cash with a career in penetration testing. Similarly, the bug bounties program offered by the big giants like Google, Microsoft, Facebook, etc., as a reward to the hackers or researchers if they discover the network security holes is also huge.
Top White Hat Hackers
Ethical hacking or white-hat hacking is a state of mind, an urge to use their talents for a good purpose, to make the world a secure place than to make money. Some of the white hat hackers have influenced in a great way to make the world a better place.
1. Tim Berners-Lee
The founder of the world wide web is Berner-Lee, he is the most famous in the world of computer science. Today he is the director of the worldwide web consortium.
2. Greg Hoglund
Hoglund is a computer forensics expert; he is known for his contributions in the detection of malware, rootkits, online games hacking, etc.
3. Richard M Stallman
Richard M Stallman is one of the great examples. GNU project is a software project available for free with respect to the use of computers and was founded by Richard M Stallman. Stallman founded the free software movement in the 1980s with the idea that computers must extend cooperation and they should not hinder cooperation.
4. Dan Kaminsky
5. Jeff Moss
White hat hacker Jeff Moss is well known for his cyber skills. He worked in the U.S Homeland security advisory council under the administration of Barack Obama and was the co-chairman of the council’s task force. He founded black hat and DEFCON hacker conferences. He is the commissioner on the stability of cyberspace at the global commission.
The permission and intention behind hacking are the main aspects that differentiate a white hat hacker from a black hat hacker. The white hat hacker tests the company’s security defences with the company’s permission. A report regarding the vulnerabilities is provided to the company in a responsible manner by the white hat hacker. A black hate hacker does not have permission, good intentions, and he won’t disclose the vulnerabilities with respect to security in the organization.
This is a guide to What is White Hat Hackers? Here we discuss whether white hat hackers are illegal or not and their skills with the list of top hackers in the world. You may also look at the following articles to learn more –