Spy vs. Spy

Despite the recent bad press due to the Sony Pictures and Ashley Madison hacks, Harper Reed, head of commerce and self-identified hacker at Paypal offshoot Braintree, says that hackers are getting blamed by the media.

"Hackers aren't necessarily criminals; they're just people who are trying to mould the world around them into the world they want it to be, which also sounds very similar to all good people," Reed told writer Aimee Chanthadavong at Tech Republic."There are amazing hackers out there building companies every day. People are changing the world; some are doing very controversial things, some are doing very normal things. But if you say you want to work with a bunch of developers and you thought 'that's a really great hack,' you could be talking about something very accessible for people with disabilities or you could be talking about leaking government documents.”

Earlier this year, eGUIDE covered government use of white hat hackers, but now, private companies are also reaching out to ethical hackers to check out their security problems, writes Chanthadavong. She cites the hiring of an ethical hacker by the Australian government’s Digital Transformation Office last year as a sign that organizations are using all tools at their disposal, including former adversaries, to protect their security.

"It's really the ability to have someone act as a bad guy for you to test the integrity of your systems, processes, and your people, and let you know where the weaknesses are," said Nick Savvides, Symantec ANZ information protection business manager to TechRepublic.