Modern society relies more on computers and the Internet now than ever before as a means to exchange information. Computer infrastructures are continually evolving and developing which has lead to an increase of reliance on technology, and an increasing amount of personal data being shared between computers and over the Internet. For these reasons it imperative to keep these infrastructures safe from those who do not belong or mean to cause harm, commonly called hackers. Hackers are people who gain unauthorized access to someone else’s computer. Hacking is wrong when financial or personal gain is achieved (Jamil and Khan 2011), but there are three types of hackers. ‘White Hats’ are hackers who use their computer skills for ethical reasons, ‘Black Hats’ use their skills in unethical or illegal ways and ‘Gray Hats’, also known as vigilantes or hacktivisits (Hackers 2009), their skills to investigate criminal activity but perform it in an illegal manner.
Who is affected by computer hacking?
Anyone with a computer, including smart phones, can be a victim of hacking. Examples of those who have been affected are big name companies (Target, Twitter, and Facebook), heads of government, (Angela Merkel), and unsuspecting members of the public (Trojan viruses or worms). One approach to increasing computer security is by ethically hacking. An “ethical hacker” is someone who hacks into computers in order to spot security vulnerabilities without the intent of causing harm. This essay will provide arguments for and against the use of ethical hacking to identify weaknesses in computer security.
Ethical Hacking to Expose Security Flaws
The main argument for ethical hacking is that companies are able to decrease their loss of sensitive information by learning where weak spots are in the security of their computer systems. When a company learns what their security weaknesses are and are able to fix the problems, it will prevent the company from losing income, save the company money and time they may have to spend in fixing cyber attacks, save a company’s reputation, and will save the company from losing valuable company secrets or client data. This is imperative to keeping a company in business. Ethical hackers who are hired to find these security weaknesses look for missing security patches, common passwords and user names amongst company employees, sensitive information stored incorrectly, weak passwords, and insecure workstations (Compton 2010). Corporations may keep their security updated but when the human factor of security is included to the equation, it can be impossible to maintain security. All it takes is for one employee to write their password down, allowing it to get in the wrong hands, or to use ‘password’ as their password, and it provides easy opportunities for Black Hats to cause harm to a company’s computer system.
Those against ethical hacking say that exposing security flaws should not be encouraged and not every company can...