What Is a White Hat Hacker?

While the word hacker often has very negative connotations, a white hat hacker is very different. IBM has coined the term ethical hacker in order to describe white hat hackers, who specialize in penetration testing in order to ensure the infrastructure of various companies and organizations are secure. In the digital age, white hat hackers are becoming increasingly necessary and many companies are willing to hire them because of their penetration testing abilities. A white hat hacker functions similar to the way a mild virus functions in the human body, pointing out weak spots and giving one the chance to recover and build immunity to a specific attack.

How to Become a White Hat Hacker

Because white hat hackers are often able to find holes and weaknesses in a variety of different programs and data-systems, they are often able to patch the problem before someone with malicious intent is able to do the same. Because of this, white hat hackers are in high demand by fortune 500 companies and even government institutions, such as homeland security, in order to ensure the safety of their data and infrastructure.

Most people who are hired as ethical hackers for large corporations or for government institutions often have degrees in computer science and IT security; however, this is not always the case. Often, prominent and skilled hackers get offered jobs regardless of their degree, given they are fairly well-known and have perfected their art. However, anyone that isn’t familiar with white hat hacking and is looking for a position in this field should certainly getting a foundation of experience through a computer science/IT security degree.

Why Choose White Hat Hacking

While the debate between white hat and black hat hackers is fierce, there are a variety of differences between the two that make them very difference career choices. While a lot of money can be made through black hat hacking, it is illegal, and worrying about the potential jail time risked can certainly cause sleepless nights no matter how much money is made. On the other hand, while the rewards for white hat hacking may not be as big, it is an honest and high-paying way to do something that one enjoys without the threat of legal action.

While the average starting salary is around $100,000 per year, extremely skilled white-hat hackers have been compensated upwards of $300,000 per year, a very reasonable sum of money for someone who is passionate about the craft.

The Future of White Hat Hacking

One of the best ways to make money as an ethical hacker is to open a consulting business. By doing this, one is in control of their business and can deal with whom they choose instead of dedicating themselves to a particular company. Having a highly skilled team of white hat hackers to work with clients can be extremely profitable in comparison to most similar in-house jobs.

There are a variety of different opportunities for hackers to make money with their skills and even now, companies have started offering certifications in ethical hacking such as these found at EC-Council. Because more and more companies are moving to digital means, the need for skilled ethical hackers is rising drastically. Because of this, anyone who already has experience in this area, even black hats, can quickly become a white hat hacker for a variety of high-paying companies and institutions.

For more information, check out “White Hat Hackers: Uncle Sam Wants You“.