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Hacking In The 21st Century Essay

2740 words - 11 pages

A countless number of today’s companies understand “hacking” is not just a crime, but a necessity to today’s internet security. “Microsoft and Facebook announced last November that they would pay bounties to ethical hackers for discovering vulnerabilities, not just in their own products, but in software systems that make up the internet infrastructure, as well” (Acohido par 3). Companies are soliciting outside computer specialists to illegally crack into their networks and try and find security holes in their infrastructure. Imagine prosecuting one of these hackers for responding to the call of these high profile companies. Punishments handed out to a person who has gained access to a network or system that is not their own, must be reflective of the situation and not a blanket punishment for all unauthorized access.
Merriam-Webster defines the word hacker in four different ways. The first definition is one that hacks; second is a person who is inexperienced and or unskilled at a particular activity; third, an expert at computer programming and solving problems with a computer; and fourth is one who illegally gains access to and sometimes tampers with information in a computer system (“Hacker”). When society first started associating the term hacker with computers, it was before digital identity theft and cyber terrorism, during the wonderful time of the golden 80’s and 90’s and during the early conception of the internet. Society, at that time, put hackers up on a pedestal. Movies and television portrayed hackers as white nights fighting evil companies for the impoverished peasants. Hackers were capable of feats only thought possible in the most educated of individuals, not mere teenagers working out of their parents’ basements. Our definition of a computer genius has changed in the last few decades and not all hackers are the criminals we make them out to be. Most of today’s society associates the term hacker with criminal, thief and even terrorist. Mark Zuckerberg’s definition, co-founder of Facebook, “Hacking just means building something quickly or testing the boundaries of what can be done” (qtd in Levitas par 12).
Steve Gold, who is a journalist specializing in IT security, has purported there are three types of hackers; white hat, black hat, and grey hat (77). White hats are hackers who view themselves as a procurer of good and are only trying to make the world safer. Black hats are hackers out to do harm or are out to make a profit from the misfortunes of others. Grey hat hackers are willing to bend the law to find the hole and plug it. “White hats – self-styled vigilantes for justice and the technology consumer, seeking out flaws in IT systems and software, helping to solve them for the common good” (Gold 77). Imagine if organizations were to help rehabilitate “black hat” hackers, in order to gain the expertise of these individuals for the greater good of the company (Gold 77).
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