Ethical Hacking Series: What Is Ethical Hacking?

Every business has a testing process for new features and products to ensure they are safe and consumers and companies are protected. Food companies have taste tests and FDA compliance guidelines to follow. Movie and TV production companies have ratings boards. In the tech world, we have ethical hacking, a process which ensures the security, safety and functionality of anything created with code. Business owners want to know that their next releases is secure, it’s not going to break when it gets bombarded with users, that the code is sound. One of the best ways to do this is with ethical hacking.

Ethical hacking is the practice of hacking for good. Essentially, ethical hackers hack for one of two purposes. One, whether it’s their own system or not, they’ve been hired to attempt to destroy, damage, intrude upon, a system to see if there are vulnerabilities. Two, they’re looking for new ways to intrude, damage systems with new methodologies, or figure out new evolutions in hacking methodologies which have not been thought of and therefore no one has secured against these methods.

There are two types of ethical hacking: White hat and black hat. Black hat hacking means the person hired to test your systems has no knowledge of your systems. They are going in blind, looking for obvious weaknesses and fragility. White hat hackers have some information about your systems and are able to form an idea of where to look for weaknesses and potentially what to look for as they go.

Many companies have the shades pulled back when they have someone come in and ethically hack them. Almost no company can go through and pass a really well executed black hat hack. That percentage is even less when it’s a white hat hack. Which is another reason ethical hacking is so important, it can really tell you where your weaknesses lay, what is fragile and what needs to be fixed.

Ethical hacking is really the core practice that is underlying pen testing, secure code practices and other practices which are designed to help secure your company. Security is one of the most important aspects of your business. Look at the recent attacks on Twitter, Garmin and Reddit. Imagine if your company is breached and you expose your customers and clients sensitive and private data. Do you have the resources to isolate, locate and shut down the breach? Do you have the funds to cover legal fees and reparations? What happens when you lose 30% of your business because your reputation is tarnished?

Securing your business is incredibly important. The bottom line is that ethical hacking is an essential part of securing your business. We always talk about being proactive, being prepared and doing everything you can to prevent an attack. That’s because the likelihood of stopping an attack that is in progress is slim. Ethical hacking let’s you turn those gaps into prevention.

About the Author

Pieter VanIperen, Managing Partner of PWV Consultants, leads a boutique group of industry leaders and influencers from the digital tech, security and design industries that acts as trusted technical partners for many Fortune 500 companies, high-visibility startups, universities, defense agencies, and NGOs. He is a 20-year software engineering veteran, who founded or co-founder several companies. He acts as a trusted advisor and mentor to numerous early stage startups, and has held the titles of software and software security executive, consultant and professor. His expert consulting and advisory work spans several industries in finance, media, medical tech, and defense contracting. Has also authored the highly influential precursor HAZL (jADE) programming language.

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