Perhaps you’ve heard the term “white hat” in recent years. If you haven’t spent much time in the information security realm, then you may not be entirely sure what white hat is, let alone a white hat hacker, especially considering the moniker hacker often carries a negative connotation.
In simple terms, a white hat hacker, or white hat for short, is an ethical hacker who infiltrates a network or seeks out software exploits for the sole purpose of exposing weaknesses and vulnerabilities to improve security. It’s essentially like hiring a burglar to break into your home, tell you how they did it and how it can be prevented next time. It may seem odd, but it can pay immense dividends for companies and developers who utilize the services of white hat hackers.
Though we may feel comfortable browsing the internet curled up on the couch in our pajamas or clicking through webpages at work, the web is not as secure or private as it may seem. In fact, there are plenty of criminals out there looking to steal our identities, including our financial information, when we least expect it.
Fortunately, encryption can provide an added layer of protection against hackers and crooks, and it’s quickly becoming a worldwide priority. As of February 2017, it is estimated that more than 50 percent of internet communication is encrypted, in part because Google prioritizes more secure domains with https in the URL in organic search results.1
Although it sounds complex, encryption isn’t as incomprehensible as some would have you believe, and you can start applying encryption tactics right now to protect your information.
Websites, e-commerce pages and software programs are rarely perfect right out of the gate. Companies rely on dozens of quality assurance testers and programmers to identify and resolve coding issues and bugs before their products hit the market. However, even these experts on the inside can miss imperfections.
When an analyst, programmer or quality assurance tester needs an extra set of eyes, it can help the company a great deal to look to outside sources for help. Companies in the past 20 years have sought out help with locating exploits and issues in their programs in the form of bug bounties.