Hacking as a Means of Identifying Weaknesses in Computer Security

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The use of hacking can be very beneficial as a means of identifying weaknesses in computer security. Nowadays, numerous companies and governments use this technique to assess the level of security of their systems and determine if any valuable information is at risk of being accessed unlawfully. Ethical hackers are employed to identify potential threats on a single computer or a whole network of computers. The found potential exploits are later patched thus decreasing the chance of a breach in the system and increasing its overall security and reliability. In the context of computer security, a hacker is someone who seeks and exploits weaknesses in a computer network or a computer system. Hackers may be motivated by a number of reasons ranging from protest to profit. An ethical hacker is a computer expert who attacks the security of a certain system on behalf of its owners seeking for potential vulnerabilities a malicious hacker could abuse. To test system security, ethical hackers use the same techniques as their less principled counterparts but report problems instead of taking advantage of them. Such hackers are sometimes called “white hat” hacker whereas malicious hackers go by the name “black hat” (Rouse, 2007). These terms represent an analogy coming from old Western movies where the good guy wore a white hat and the bad guy wore a black one. There are more than a few techniques which could be used to test a system’s security level. While penetration testing concentrates on attacking computer and software systems using a set of penetration techniques, ethical hacking, which will likely include such things, is under no such restrictions. A full-scale ethical hack (Knight, 2009) might include emailing staff to ask for passwor... ... middle of paper ... ...41 2. Palmer, C.C. 2001. "Ethical Hacking". IBM Systems Journal 40 (3): 769. 3. D'Ottavi, Alberto. 2003. "Interview: Father of the Firewall". Retrieved November 16, 2013. 4. Geier, Eric. 2012. “How to Become an Ethical Hacker”. Retrieved November 17, 2013 5. “Certified Ethical Hacker”. 2014. Available at: http://www.eccouncil.org/Certification/certified-ethical-hacker. Retrieved November 16, 2013 6. “Ethical Hacking”. 2013 Available at: http://www.computerhope.com/jargon/e/ethihack.htm. Retrieved November 17, 2013 7. Rouse, Margaret. 2007. “White hat”. Avaialable at: http://searchsecurity.techtarget.com/definition/white-hat. Retrieved January 31, 2014 8. Cluley, Graham. 2012. “Jail for ‘ethical’ hacker who bypassed Facebook security from his bedroom”. Available at: http://nakedsecurity.sophos.com/2012/02/20/jail-facebook-ethical-hacker. Retrieved February 2, 2014.
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