Gone Phishing: Defensive hacking serves the greater good

Hacking is a tool that can be used for the greater good or the greater evil, but not something to fear.

Armani Jackson, Co-Editor-in-Chief

Ever since the last presidential campaign, the concept of hacking has been an enigma to the public. Common computer science terms like binary or server raise more red flags than communist China. People today are nervous about syncing their computer with their phones, or staying logged into Google for fear that someone with malicious intent could login and see their Costco grocery lists or weekly agendas.

Hacking has received a lot of heat in the media lately, with every news organization running B roll of the stereotypical ones and zeros racing across the screen in bright green courier font that people are forgetting that hacking is a tool, and like any tool it help or hurt. Someone can barely whisper the word without others looking at them like they’re contemplating blowing up a the U.N.

The reality is that if more of the population knew what hacking really was and/or how to do it responsibly, the internet would be safer. The issue lies not in keeping the bad guys out, but rather neutralizing them while they’re in.

Since the internet’s creation in the ‘90s, it’s been viewed with such tangible fragility that people like Kim Kardashian think they can break it with one almost nude photo.

In reality, the internet is resilient. It’s survived the drama, idiots and political tomfoolery that 2016 has put it through. If it can survive the hail storm of last year, it can survive some bored teens that have taken one coding class who have nothing better to do.

That being said, bad hacking is a real possibility. It’s far less common since the hackers main purpose is to ransom in exchange for money or leak celebrity nudes. Generally speaking, the world has nothing to worry about.

There’s a concept referred to as “white hat hacking” where the notions change. These are the real computer experts who not only know what they’re doing, but how to do so in a controlled environment. These people are hacking to test how secure a company is or how strong their software is.

Computer experts know that complete security is impossible. If someone wants the information, there’s always a way they can get it no matter how hard cybersecurity teams try to prevent them. Therefore, these experts aren’t necessarily trying to keep everyone out. Rather, they’re trying to minimize the damage if someone got in.

Companies and government agencies need to focus more on damage control than total security because it’s a fantasy in the eyes of hackers. Think about the millionaires in the world. They have so much money that they’ve fabricated a mental kingdom where they think they have everything, when in reality a hacking tsunami can sweep everything away and they would be left with the ruins of their decades of dreams.

According to The Huffington Post, society has defined military technology as superior. At one point, the Department of Defense and Intelligence Community owned and could deploy the most advanced technology.

But today, there’s the power of social media, GPS and smartphones that private citizens can use for anything. That’s a power the military has yet to match. Theoretically then, it would make the most sense to use the influence of the millennial, or YouTube, generation to do what they do best: use a computer.

Teaching young people about both sides of the hacking issue allows them to make the choice of what they want to accomplish.

White hat, or defensive, hacking is used as a form of retaliation. It’s not just about the technology anymore. People need to know that having basic programming knowledge won’t get them interrogated by the FBI, that knowing how to hack won’t get them in trouble. It’s about how they use those skills.

There’s ethical ways to use knowledge, and defensive hacking is one of them. If each company had a small team working on cybersecurity and another, slightly bigger team working on neutralizing threats, national security wouldn’t be as much of a problem as it is.

The Puyallup Post is the award-winning news media of Pierce College Puyallup in Puyallup, Washington. Copyright The Puyallup Post 2018. Find us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Youtube @thepuyalluppost

Armani Jackson

Gone Phishing: Defensive hacking serves the greater good

by Armani Jackson time to read: 3 min