Just mentioning the term ‘Hacking’, can freak people out these days. With news of various incidents of internet and data hacking across the globe, most people have come to mainly associate this word with cybercrime. We certainly don’t blame the people as cybercrime incidents and distribution of malware and viruses have become even more prevalent since 2015.
Criminalized band of hackers exist all across the globe and work in organized or nuclear groups to stage various cybercrime attacks. Accessing user accounts related to social media, email Ids, online banking, credit card information, bank details, sensitive information such as social security numbers, personal information etc. are just few of the targets of such attacks. High risk targets include, government databases, financial institutions, multi-national businesses and access to authoritative networks.
Can Hacking Be Ethical?
It might be hard to believe, but this highly disruptive skill of computer hacking can also be used for a number of ‘ethical’ purposes. These ethical hackers are often termed as ‘White Hat Hackers’. Instead of using their hacking knowledge to unlawfully tap into secure networks, these white hat hackers help detect any vulnerabilities in your security.
They work under full user consent and conduct systematic tests to find any unchecked gateway to malicious activity on your system or network. Apart from this there are various ways how hacking could be put to ethical uses. Listed below are some examples how ethical hacking can actually enhance our cybersecurity and life.
Identifying and Reporting New Security Threats
With a new computer virus being unleashed each day, there must be someone keeping track of all new security threats. Yes, these are definitely the heroic ‘White Hat Hackers’ who keep a close check on such virus and report any new threat to the authorities. The more informed we are about these malware and viruses; the sooner we will be able to ready ourselves such attacks.
Exposing Criminal Activities
Hacking doesn’t always need to be used against the regular, hard-working, run-of-the-mill internet users. Sometimes even criminals are given a taste of their own medicine, when their networks are targeted by ethical hackers to expose or halt their unlawful activities. A famous example of such type of ethical hacking could be used against unlawful activities happened in late 2015. An anonymous group of hackers took responsibility for taking over the twitter accounts related to the terrorist group ISIS/ISIL (Islamic State of Iraq and Syria/Levant). This was a reaction to the terrorist attacks occurred in Paris, with the hackers publically vowing to destroy the aforementioned terrorist faction.
Making Anti-Virus Protection Better
Each time your anti-virus program downloads an update, there’s a hard-working white hat hacker working diligently to make it impervious to newer threats. Your anti-virus would be a total waste if its databases weren’t constantly updated to counter against newer strains of computer viruses and malware. A great example of this can be seen with the NoMoreRansom project, a joint collaboration of big names in cybersecurity such as Kaspersky labs, Intel Security and European Cybercrime Centre etc. Like its name suggests, it is a central database that attempts to inform people about Ransomware virus and aid people who’ve been targeted by this devastating crypto virus.
Even the military have commissioned hackers who help perform various military strikes on these digitally active terrorists. Sometimes, military factions also develop various types of computer worms or viruses that are used in cyberwarfare against their enemies. The most well-known example is Stuxnet, a highly dangerous computer virus that is believed to be co-developed by Israeli-American Cyberweapons division. The worm was intended to be released against Iran, in attempts to sabotage their nuclear program. Although the attack was nearly successful, this was panned by media as improper use of this technology. In their defense, war is never completely ethical.
These are just few of the examples how hacking can actually be put to good uses. Just like how a gun cannot be blamed for killing someone, hacking too, is extremely misused and misunderstood.