Ethical Hacking and Ethics of Hacking

When we hear the word hacking perhaps an image of a computer wizard or geek might come to our mind. Maybe we even imagine him/her as an eccentric and sinister character. Hacker is ordinarily looked upon as data thief and is considered to be an enemy of our society.

But we may have to ask: is there ethical hacking? Are we to criminalize every kind of hacking? The reality of ethical hacking is much different. We may need what we can call as refrain principle in this context. Refrain principle is the best principle to be followed by security experts in this regard. Just because one can hack, it does not mean one has to or one should. Due to their ability, they have great power and equally great responsibility. Therefore, they cannot use their dexterity to harm others. With knowledge comes power (Michel Foucault), and hence one has a moral responsibility, not to overstep ethics. While one has the duty harm anyone, one also cannot use hacking to acquire data for personal gain.

Maybe we need cyber ethics to help cyber activity like ethical hacking as well as cyborgization of the human body. It is inevitable at a time when terrorist organizations leave no stone unturned to weaken the security of an enemy nation as well as siphon off huge amounts of money from different sources. Hence, security experts are ethically bound to see that our cyber security system is strong and free of all vulnerabilities. It is in this context a security expert can become an ethical hacker.

Ethical hacking is also called penetration testing. This means ethical hacking is a form of self-defence. Ethical hacking is often a security audit of a computer network carried out by a cyber security expert with prior knowledge and permission of the owners of the computer network. Ethical hacking is, therefore, a defence against unscrupulous and unethical hackers. Today there is a growing demand for ethical hackers because of mushrooming growth of cyber-attacks. Ethical hackers make sure that unethical hackers do not harm our data infrastructure and harm us.

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Hypocrisy is the tribute that vice pays to virtue.

- Fr Victor Ferrao