Black hat hackers threaten organizations all over the world, and the demand for IT security has never been greater. While this creates problems for organizations with data to protect, it opens up amazing employment opportunities for security practitioners with “white hat” skills. One of the most exciting fields in cybersecurity is penetration testing or white hat hacking, and the opportunities are endless.
White hat hackers test IT systems for vulnerabilities before they’re discovered by black hat hackers. This Spy vs. Spy environment makes work exciting and is one of the many reasons IT practitioners are switching their careers. Job security and lucrative employment are also reasons the field continues to grow, and practitioners who certify the right skills are reaping huge rewards.
Since the bad guys get all the media attention, let’s shine a much-needed light on the good guys keeping our data and systems safe. Here are the five most interesting white hat hackers you should know:
Kevin Mitnick: “I’m still a hacker. I get paid for it now. I never received any monetary gain from the hacking I did before. The main difference in what I do now compared to what I did then is that I now do it with authorization.”
The most famous hacker in modern history, Kevin Mitnick, was once considered the most wanted computer criminal in the United States. Known as “Condor,” Mitnick led the US Federal Communications Commission on a two-year chase before being brought to justice in 1995. After serving his time, Mitnick returned to society a changed man and found a new calling as a security consultant. Today, Mitnick tests systems for the some of the biggest companies in the world, writes best-selling books and gives speeches on his experiences.
Tsutomu Shimomura: “We call things we don’t understand complex, but that means we haven’t found a good way of thinking about them.”
Tsutomu Shimomura is the mastermind best known for assisting the FBI in bringing Kevin “Condor” Mitnick to justice. As the son of a Nobel Prize winner in Chemistry, Shimomura also worked with the National Security Agency where he testified to Congress about mobile security. Today, Shimomura is a senior fellow at the San Diego Supercomputer Center, where he lends his expertise on the topics of physics and cybersecurity.
Julian Assange: “In the history of WikiLeaks, nobody has claimed that the material being put out is not authentic.”
Julian Assange is, without a doubt, the most controversial, white hat hacker in modern history. Beginning his career as a computer programmer in Australia, Assange eventually plead guilty to hacking into agencies such as the Pentagon, US Department of Defense and US Navy. Today, Assange is the head of the whistle-blower website, WikiLeaks. Hackers all over the world provide hacked information on government corruption, which is then vetted for accuracy and exposed online.
Marc Maiffret: “The thing I’m happy about is that my biggest passion in life, hacking and security, is something that actually makes for a good business.”
At the age of 17, Marc Maifrett knew his hacking hobby had gone too far when he woke up to a federal agent pointing a gun at his head. After receiving a stern warning, Maiffret promised to never maliciously hack again and began a career as a security researcher. Some of Maiffret’s accomplishments include discovering major vulnerabilities in Microsoft’s software and testifying to the US Congress on national cybersecurity issues. Today, Maifrett serves as the Chief Technology Officer at Beyond Trust.
Charlie Miller: “The hard part is figuring out the soft part to go after.”
Charlie Miller has enjoyed an amazing career that included employment with the National Security Agency and Uber. Miller is most commonly known for winning a $10,000 cash prize at the Pwn2Own conference where he found a critical bug in the MacBook Air. Miller has since exposed additional vulnerabilities in SMS processing, iPhones and Safari. Today, Miller is working as a security researcher at Didi Research.
Summing It Up
There’s no doubt white hat hacking provides exciting and lucrative employment opportunities for those with a passion for enhancing the cybersecurity landscape. Aspiring security practitioners interested in learning more about the amazing field of cybersecurity are encouraged to download this informative PDF, packed full of information about breaking into the cybersecurity industry.