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How Hackers Are Improving Internet Security

April 11, 2017 No Comments

Featured article by Jennifer Livingston, Independent Technology Author

hacker technology man computer 300x200 How Hackers Are Improving Internet Security

On the internet, data is constantly under siege by cybercriminals. According to a study by Hewlett-Packard, cybercrime costs businesses more than $9.5 billion each year, and that number continues to rise. On top of that, 27% of all malware ever detected were recorded in 2015 alone. Clearly, cybercrime and other illicit hacking poses an increasing threat to companies across the world. To combat this growing menace, many companies are turning to hackers to make sure their systems are secure and their data cannot be breached by nefarious persons or organizations.

Hackers are increasingly working as the first line of defense for businesses looking to secure their digital assets. Armed with the knowledge necessary to infiltrate systems and extract data, these ethical hackers are testing the security of our most vulnerable systems, ensuring that the technology we rely on remains secure while under constant attack. Whether securing remote medical devices or ensuring that your home security system is safe from prying eyes, these hackers are using their skills to keep the internet secure.

How Ethical Hackers Test Security

Ethical hackers, or white hat hackers, use a variety of sophisticated techniques to ensure the security of business and customer data on the internet. Using the same techniques criminals employ, including port scanning, packet sniffing, SQL injection and more, white hat hackers rigorously test your system using a systematic approach. As they go through a system, they meticulously document each of the vulnerabilities they find, allowing an IT team to make adjustments and developers to find and correct vulnerabilities in the underlying system code. Additionally, a good team of ethical hackers will employ sophisticated social engineering techniques to expose human vulnerabilities in a business security system. By addressing human error, ethical hackers can help a company avoid the single greatest cause of digital data leaks.

Hollywood stereotypes tend to portray hackers as lone individuals in front of a computer screen, but that image doesn’t match up with reality. To meet the needs of their clients, most ethical hackers take a methodical approach to their penetration testing. As an example, many companies employ a virtual bookkeeper to reduce costs, but this introduces a significant potential security risk. An ethical hacking team will start with surveillance, learning as much as they can about the potential target. This will include internet searches as well as some scanning of the target to gain information about the underlying architecture. The white hat hacker will then follow this up with intensive security scanning, using port scanners and other tools to gain a clear understanding of the underlying infrastructure of the target system. Next, using information gained from the scanning process, the hacker will attempt to gain access to the system by way of an exploit, and then will proceed to attempt to maintain access as long as possible. While within the system, the hacker will attempt to escalate their privileges, gaining access to as much of the system as possible. Finally, the hacker will document the techniques they used, allowing IT teams of the company to repeat their process and find a solution to the exploit.

Hackers Give Back to the Community

A number of white hat hacking organizations have started organizations to improve internet security. 0patch allows other security professionals to contribute to their project, building a crowdsourced solution to security vulnerabilities in common software applications. I am the Cavalry is a grassroots organization founded by ethical hackers dedicated to promoting ethical security research and internet safety. Furthermore, many hackers make significant donations to charities, and top industry convention DEFCON promotes blood and marrow donations.

Contrary to popular perception, many ethical hackers use their skills to improve internet security for everyone. As losses associated with cybercrime are on the rise, many companies are turning to ethical hackers to improve their firm’s security. By using the same techniques as criminals, these hackers are helping individuals and businesses be more secure in an increasingly insecure world.

 

SECURITY

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