Written by IEEE | March 2, 2016 | Updated: March 30, 2017
Cybersecurity is multifaceted. On one end of the spectrum, there’s the issue of data privacy; hackers who infiltrate networks to steal information from corporations and consumers. But what about the positive aspects of cybersecurity? The concept of hacking for good isn’t new, but it’s not well publicized beyond corporate “hackathons.” To help steer perception away from the negative, we’ve compiled a list of five key terms to know as you navigate the brighter side of the hacking and cybersecurity spectrum. Once you familiarize yourself with these terms, take our Cybersecurity Survey.
White Hat vs. Black Hat
In an effort to distinguish the good hackers from the bad, the terms “white hat” and “black hat” have become part of the vernacular. A white hat hacker uses his or her skills to improve computer security, while the black hat hacker uses their power for disruptive behavior that breaks or breaches security.
This type of hacking is welcomed by many businesses and government organizations. Ethical hackers search for vulnerabilities present in software and fix the glitches. These hackers help to keep important websites, and the data within, secure.
Government organizations have embraced white hat hackers and all that they can do to help communities. As a result, technologists, entrepreneurs, developers and other citizens have been able to band together to help solve civic problems related to healthcare and education.
Coding for Kids
The next generation will live their entire lives digitally, which is bound to include both the good and the bad. Many programs have been established around teaching kids how to code, and how to be white hat hackers. Starting kids out young with the tools to learn about security for good will prepare them for a career in the evolving field of cybersecurity.
Lasting one day and up to more than a week, hackathons bring coders and designers together to work on software and systems-based projects. These events can help to expose problems prior to the software being released to the public. Hackathons encourage white hat hacking for the good of a product, and ultimately, for the welfare of the public.