Hackers often convey a negative connotation—they’re the ones who break into websites or the ones who steal our personal information. But they know how computers work, and such knowledge can turn out to be valuable for researchers.
Facebook recently made an announcement that it was actually encouraging hackers to try and break past the site’s security. While this announcement left some users concerned about privacy issues, Facebook’s intentions were to let hackers try and break the site’s security so that company could find and fix system flaws. Finding a bug could result in a $500-plus reward. Other companies, such as Mozilla and Google, offer similar hacker rewards.
A symbiotic relationship between the “good guys” (legitimate website developers) and the “bad guys” (hackers) can lead to a safer and more secure future. Though it’s scary to think that websites are essentially encouraging people to hack into the security systems, it’s ultimately for our benefit.
Manuel De Landa’s article, “Policing the Spectrum,” discusses the first digital virus that caused damage to individuals’ computers. This virus, designed by a computer hacker, led researchers and scientists to see that hackers meant business and could very well make even more damaging viruses later. They needed to be stopped, so what better way to defend against such attacks than hiring hackers so scientists how their work is done? By studying the techniques and skills of computer hackers, researchers can continue to build defenses against devastating viruses.