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What is a White Hat Hacker?

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The world of hacking has been portrayed as a stylized activity only utilized by shadowy criminals and illegal organizations. While hacking is certainly used by nefarious sources such as these, there is a world of hacking that is a tad bit more ethical. Known as white hat hackers, these highly skilled experts use their computer skills for good rather than evil.

Hackers are typically categorized by a type of metaphorical hat: black, grey, or white. The moniker draws inspiration from old spaghetti westerns, where the bad guys would don black hats, and the good guys would wear white hats.

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Also known as “ethical hackers,” white hat hackers utilize their hacking skills for more honorable motivations. White hat hackers usually employ their skills after being given permission from the owner of the system they are working. These specialist will work towards on patching up vulnerabilities and cyber-weaknesses that black hat hackers would try to exploit. Through the use of creating clever programs and helpful interfaces, white hat hackers are the silent heroes in providing us with a safe and secure cyber world.

An interesting characteristic that is often shared among white hat hacker is that they used to  participate in the other side of hacking as that of a black hat hacker. Take for example one of the most famous ethical hackers of all time: Kevin Mitnick.

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In the mid-90s, Mitnick was behind some of the most high-profile hacks of the late 20th century. He participated in hacking into large corporations, stealing valuable data and exploiting dozens of computer networks. In 1995, after a highly publicized pursuit, the FBI arrested Mitnick at his apartment in North Carolina.

After serving five years in prison, Mitnick went on to become of the most well-known white hat hackers. His skills have led do consulting work for Fortune 500 companies, teach social engineering classes, and provide his skills to for future white hat hackers.

As we progress into an increasingly digital world, the need for white hat hackers is higher than ever. Data breaches are more prevalent than ever, and the safety of your personal data has never been at a higher risk than it is. White hat hackers are a crucial line of defense in developing a world where cybersecurity is of the utmost importance.

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Avid writer and reader with a curious mind. I'm always looking to get the most out of life! Follow me on Twitter @whatsaschoon

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