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'White-Hat' Hackers Combat the Bad Guys Using The Villains’ Tactics

White-hat hackers keep up with the latest tricks of cyber criminals to help them fight these "black hats" and protect the information of businesses.
Tut Underwood/SC Public Radio

Hacking, whether it’s into a bank, insurance company or an individual’s records, is a serious, and growing crime in the 21st century.  The damages inflicted by hackers in the United States alone can reach into the billions of dollars annually.   However, a new weapon against these online thieves has arisen in the past few years: the white-hat hacker, a hacker who fights the “black-hats,” or bad hackers.  According to Ronni Wilkinson of the University of South Carolina College of Engineering and Computing, white-hat  hackers have the same skills as the criminals, and are frequently hired by companies to plug up the holes in their computer defenses.   Tom Webb, director of Information Security Operations for USC, said some white-hats are former computer geeks who used to break into systems not to do harm, but for the challenge.  Now, they’re getting bounties to find bugs in the systems for a range of companies, some as large as Facebook and Google.