The Digital Life: What Are White Hat Hackers?

By: JV

Everyone knows about the bad hackers. The ones that use their skills for the evil of humanity to hack into our personal things and exploiting them. But there has to be a good guy in this right?

White Hat Hackers the little known good guys.


Well, to start off who are they?

Most times they are reformed “Black Hat hackers” or sometimes they are others who have a good amount of knowledge in the field and use it to help people.

A group of Hackers are referred to by the CNS 4011 (A certification made by The National Security Agency also known as NSA ) were given code names depending on what the job is. They are known as  “ Red Teams ” if acting as aggressors or if they are invaders. “ Blue Teams “ if acting on defending or patching up a system. They tend to do patching in pairs and test out the system for holes that Black Hat Hackers can use to exploit their information.

They are what we call “ethical hackers”

They are also known by other names such as “sneakers“, “ tiger teams“, “red teams” , or even “White knights”. 20140222_WBD001_0

These people are experts in penetrating into security systems and servers for organization’s. They tend to use their skills to improve security on a system to make sure that Black Hat hackers who want to get in and exploit their information don’t, but they use around the same type of methods and very similar (or exactly the same) to get into the system and find problems. Some even who work for organizations are added to (or are all ready on) the pay-roll.

A fun little fact is that the internet gave the hackers these names based on the old cliche of old western movies where the good cowboy wears a white hat while the bad guy wears the black hat. Thus White and Black Hat hackers were given that name.

Ethical hacking is actually considered a board category for penetration testing. But not all White Hat hackers work for companies. Others see it as a hobby and provide their help either for free or for an amount of money.

They all use different ways of contacting you. If they are working for a company they alert the head of the organization before going in to fix the problem. Others who work alone use different methods.

Some of them include telling people via a phone call, an e-mail to a webmaster or an administrator or going so far as leaving an electronic message to let you know that your system has been breached.

Ethical Hackers ask before hacking into someones computer while Black Hats and Grey Hats will just go in without any permission. It is a bit of a touchy subject because while Grey Hats hack into things without permission like the White Hats they will warn people if there are back doors for Black Hats to use. But, it brings up an interesting point. Can we trust these people who are hacking into are digital devices and put our faith in them not to leak anything that we don’t want out there? mohammed-al-hadi-hacking-and-hackers-3-638

Even if the intention is right does it still make it okay to do?

Some people believe that if the intention is pure then it is okay and yes it makes sense. No files were stolen, nothing leaked, no harm done. But when should we draw the line on our privacy?

Good intentions do not always mean the actions are ethical.

The lines between White Hat, Grey Hat and Black Hat are blurry but getting into the different types of hackers will help us better understand the situations we are faced with when these things happen. Now with all this information I hope you learned a little bit more on how the internet works and what goes on behind the scenes.

The Websites I used to gather this information were:

  • Wikipedia White Hat (computer security)

  • Techopedia

The pictures I used:

(the URL’s show up in the order they were presented in)



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