White hat hackers use their powers for good. They help organizations that might have security breaches before the organizations are hacked. Hacking doesn’t always mean hacking into someone else’s system.
“The use of ‘hacker’ to mean ‘security breaker’ is a confusion on the part of the media,” he said. Richard Matthew Stallman, a well known white hat hacker and software developer.
“Hackers refuse to acknowledge that meaning and continue to use the word to refer to someone who loves to code, someone who enjoys playful intelligence, or a combination of both,” Stallman said.
- White hat hackers are hackers who use their powers for good.
- Hackers can be described as “someone who loves to code, someone who enjoys playful intelligence, or a combination of both,” said Richard Matthew Stallman.
- Famous white hat hackers include Steve Wozniak of Apple and Jeff Moss, founder of the Defcon and Black Hat conferences.
1. Tim Berners-Lee
Berners-Lee, famous not for hacking, but for inventing the World Wide Web, is nevertheless, without question, a member of the field of white hat hackers. As a student at the University of Oxford, Berners-Lee was banned from using the university’s computers after he and a friend were caught hacking to gain access to restricted areas.
Berners-Lee went ahead and built his own computer from spare parts. After college, he hacked a few other things, including HTML.
2. Steve Wozniak
Apple’s “other Steve” Steve Wozniak started out as a white hat hacker making something called blue boxes. Wozniak and Steve Jobs built blue boxes, which essentially hack into the phone system so users can make free long distance calls.
Wozniak and Jobs later sold the blue boxes to their college classmates. Of course, you know the rest of the story. From the blue boxes, they moved on to bigger and better things. Those early days of white hat piracy are what started them.
3. Kevin Mitnick
Kevin Mitnick started out as a black hat hacker and ended up serving time after hacking into some of the largest companies in the world. Now he has left the dark side and works as a consultant and writer.
Mitnick’s own hacking experience gives him hands-on experience. An article of TakeDown.com reports that Mitnick’s early days of hacking were ambitious and largely successful.
“As a teenage prank in 1982, he allegedly broke into a North American Air Defense Command computer in Colorado Springs, Colorado. He once altered a phone program to divert federal agents trying to trace his call, sending them breaking into the home of a Middle Eastern Immigrant watching television, “the article states.
4. Tsutomu Shimomura
Back in the days when Mitnick was a black hat hacker, he hacked into computer security expert, Tsutomu Shimomura. This did not go well. Shimomura decided to get revenge by using his hacking skills to help the FBI track down and locate Mitnick. With the help of Shimomura, they were successful and Mitnick was arrested. Now they are on the same team.
5. Jeff Moss
Jeff Moss is better known in the computer world as Dark Tangent, although he is now well known aside from his hacking ability. Moss founded the Black Hat Security Conferences, which still attract thousands of computer security experts. Moss also founded Defcon, which is a very popular annual hacker conference.
Moss served as ICANN’s chief security officer and as an advisor to the US Department of Homeland Security. He continues to lead the Black Hat and Defcon security conferences..
6. Jon Lech Johansen
While they often help large companies protect themselves from malicious hackers, white hat hackers are far from being passive cogs in the system. White hat hackers often embrace the idea of independent and freely shared resources, such as open source, open access, and free sharing of software and protocols.
Just like Wozniak builds boxes to allow his college mates to receive free long distance phone calls, Jon Lech Johansen is a younger, newer hacker who has used his skills to help others defeat a closed system. His hacking skills allowed him to hack an encryption system used in DVD movies.
As a result, users of Linux or other open source operating systems can play DVDs encoded with Microsoft’s proprietary codec, which is supposed to prevent non-Microsoft systems from running the DVDs.
7. Richard Matthew Stallman
Richard Stallman founded the GNU Project. The GNU project is both an open source operating system and a mass collaboration project. According to Stallman, GNU includes programs that are not GNU software, but rather programs developed by other people for their own purposes. Stallman continues to work on the GNU Project and he is an advocate of free and open software.
The bottom line
White hat hacking has become increasingly important as businesses and individuals rely on computers and the Internet. Since cybersecurity is not something that we all understand, it is critical that those who do share their expertise.