In-depth

Q&A: Understanding the hacker psyche

Understanding hackers is important for defending against the malicious ones. We talk to an ethical hacker about what inspires him and what he thinks of the dark side of cracking computers.

There is a choice every hacker will make at the start of their virtual adventures: whether to use their powers for good or evil.

While that seems a little platitudinous, it is a fundamental question they have to face. How does a hacker decide to between becoming a Whitehat or a Blackhat, and what prevents them from going to the dark side of criminality?

We spoke to ethical hacker and senior vice president in Europe for CRYPTOCard Jason Hart, after he performed a live hack, about what attracted him to the profession and what he thinks of the security landscape at large.

What inspired you to become an ethical hacker and what benefits can you provide in that role?

I've always been involved in technology. I started off in electronics and I've always liked James Bond and various gadgets.

I kind of fell into it by accident really. I looked at IT and thought it would be a big industry, however I wanted to focus on something very specific. I thought visible security has always been a good business to be in, so surely security related to IT in the years to come would be the place to be.

It's about making businesses and individuals aware that there is this potentially dark side to the internet and you do have to be careful what you do.

It's also about highlighting problems in businesses before they are compromised, it doesn't matter how big or how small. In fact, the bigger the organisations, the bigger the problems because there are more controls, more processes, more applications, more systems. There's not as much communication within big organisations.

But also on the reverse of that, small businesses and growing ecommerce companies - look at Twitter: massive growth, phenomenal product, but to their own success they've been compromised.

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