The advantages of ethical hacking

Written by david nield Google
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The advantages of ethical hacking
Companies such as Google, Microsoft and Apple engage with ethical hackers. (Adam Berry/Getty Images News/Getty Images)

Ethical hacking uncovers security vulnerabilities and exploits that can be patched before they're utilised by more malevolent programmers. This type of hacking can take place at large conference events sponsored by major companies, or on a smaller or more private scale. Any exploits discovered are usually patched before they're made public.

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Identifying weak areas

Ethical hacking can identify weak areas of a system's security setup. This enables vulnerabilities to be fixed before any meaningful damage can be done. In most cases, ethical hackers report weaknesses to companies before any issue is made public. Essential networks and systems, such as government databases, can be made stronger as a result of ethical hacking.

Identifying strong areas

Ethical hacking doesn't just identify the weak areas of a system -- it can highlight strengths too. This enables companies to assess what's working well when it comes to repelling cyber attacks. If a system needs to meet certain legal requirements, ethical hackers can help make a company's security measures don't fall foul of the law.

Identifying bugs

Bugs and code problems can be identified by ethically-minded hackers as well as security exploits. By asking paid or volunteer hackers to assess their networks, companies can bring to light bugs that would otherwise have gone unnoticed, improving the stability and reliability of their systems as a result. The more vital the system, the more vital this work is.

Providing an external view

Another advantage of ethical hacking is that it provides an outside view of a company's network and security procedures. Existing employees can miss loopholes or potential problems because of over-familiarity or fatigue from working with the same system and tools. External hackers bring a fresh approach and new pairs of eyes -- this can have benefits in terms of security and efficiency.

Sharing knowledge

Hacking in an ethical manner doesn't just benefit the systems being tested. It also enables coders to build up their knowledge of systems and processes, as well as providing an opportunity for hackers to pool information. Hackers with bad intentions can share tips with each other, as can hackers working for the general good.

Increasing consumer confidence

Public hacking conferences, such as CanSecWest, DEF CON or Hubcon, open a public window on large networks and applications. Users of a particular system or program can see for themselves the difficulty of hacking into it, and can be notified when vulnerabilities are dealt with. This increases the confidence of consumers in the software being tested.

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