Hacking the Hackers: Is Turnabout Fair Play?

It was only a matter of time. An Italian company that sold surveillance technology to dozens of countries, allowing their governments to hack into the computer networks of others…has itself been hacked.

 

Someone, or some organization, hacked the internal network at Hacking Team, registered in Italy as HT S.r.l., and posted files online that purportedly reveal Hacking Team sold its products to a wide range of countries, including Azerbaijan, Egypt, Sudan, Russia, and the United States.

 

Oops!

 

How does a company that sells hacking tools to others get hacked? It just goes to show that cyberattacks can happen anytime, anywhere--and no one should consider themselves fully shielded from online intrusions.

 

Appearing in the Wall Street Journal, the article reflects the growing market for off-the-shelf computer surveillance technology, and the cyber vulnerability of even those who practice the trade. The authors also point to why the industry has come under fire recently for selling its software to repressive regimes, such as Sudan, that use the tools to target dissidents, journalists, and others.

 

Hacking Team claims it doesn’t sell to countries if there are “credible concerns” their products will be used to deny human rights to citizens. In fact, the company claims its products are used for “positive” purposes, such as enabling legal investigators to obtain information about criminals and terrorists, even if the files are encrypted to keep then out of the hands of law enforcement.

 

Joining the #CyberWarrior Movement

In truth, there are ethical hackers – skilled professionals who help protect computer networks by essentially “hacking” them with corporate approval in order to search for weaknesses and vulnerabilities. They use the same skills as a malicious hacker, except to help develop safeguards that will block malicious intrusions.

 

The idea is that to defeat hackers, you must think like them. To many, ethical hackers are necessary to win the battle against cyberattacks.

 

The Associate’s degree program in Cyber Security and Forensics offered by Fortis College in Centerville, Ohio, can help prepare students for careers as Certified Ethical Hackers, among other cyber security-related occupations. 

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