Hackers: Your Secret Weapon

Hackers and their unique thought perspective, skills, and work ethic will help drive success in the decades to come.

Dark Reading Staff, Dark Reading

March 18, 2020

4 Min Read

Taxes, retirement, funding your kid's college... coronavirus — all things that may keep you up at night. But what about the grammar tool that your employees use? Ever consider the potential risks of that company tracking and storing every keystroke from your employees? Or being hacked by cybercriminals hanging out in the parking lot of your office building using well-known techniques to breach your Wi-Fi and gain administrative access while evading detection? Or the repercussion of an employee's single click on a seemingly harmless email? All are devastating and costly scenarios that I recently have seen.

The world has never had more hackers. Personally, I think that's great. Sure, there is a cybersecurity shortage and it will continue to grow, especially with companies digitally transforming, adopting multiple cloud environments, "connecting" everything, and, ultimately, accepting more risk. But the exciting part is the prevalence of individuals who truly think outside the box, do not accept status quo, and bring a unique level of thinking to the table — some good, some questionable.

Hacker is not a bad word. As hackers, we like to "hack things." We take things apart, understand them better, and then challenge why things are a certain way. Many hackers tend to have a similar frame of mind that includes some of the characteristics outlined below that are often underrepresented throughout the organization, and most importantly, in the boardroom.

Hackers are OK with challenging the status quo. They are OK questioning rules and norms. While this may leave you questioning why this is a desirable trait for an executive, who better to come up with a unique solution to a problem? Hackers pride themselves in finding solutions to problems that you didn't know existed.

Hackers look beyond what is and what can be to produce the ideal. They are visionaries on what is possible and will work tirelessly to find a way to turn an idea into reality. While it is human nature to do what is expected and oftentimes deliver a "good enough" solution, hackers will develop an ideal solution in a manner that minimizes risk. This may come with trade-offs. For instance, they often times are not the quickest to pick up on social queues and tend to offer the unfiltered truth — but sometimes that is needed.

Hackers have an unparalleled ability to identify problems, the risk associated with the problems and find workable solutions. By looking at life through a different lens, vulnerabilities can be quickly identified, troubleshooted, and researched in detail to understand how a problem originated, and then ensure additional vulnerabilities are mitigated. They are able to do this because it's what they do every day of the week. So, whether they are security testing and identify an exploitable weakness, or spotting the root cause of a breach, hackers' brains are wired to be curious.

Finally, nothing spells success like a little healthy paranoia. The natural tendency is to trust and expect the best from people and technology. Hackers don't think that way. This is partially why they are so good at identifying weaknesses, and also why they are often portrayed as socially awkward. However, this is a remarkable trait when assessing the professional landscape — from reviewing competition and planning for the future to noticing vulnerabilities right under your nose. Hackers are on high alert, manage risk, and play to win.

Cybersecurity will continue to creep its way into the boardroom through budget discussions, risk mitigation, regulations, and customer satisfaction. Individual business units will be responsible for taking a security-first approach. They will need to better manage the security of their business, from employees to tools, so it only makes sense to have representation from the experts to drive these conversations. Take a look at some of the leading technology companies. They are successful because they have hackers at the helm. Many of their solutions didn't exist before they discovered a need for them.

Whether you are adding more testing capabilities to your security posture or hackers to your organization, the value hackers lies not just in their ability to hack. Their unique perspective, skill set, and work ethic will help drive success for companies in the decades to come.

So, in short, leverage more hackers for your organization.

About the Author: Mark Whitehead, VP, Trustwave SpiderLabs Consulting
Mark Whitehead is the vice president of Trustwave SpiderLabs Consulting, which includes security testing and digital forensics and incident response (DFIR). SpiderLabs is Trustwave's team of more than 250 elite technical professionals focused on threat hunting and threat intel, research, security testing, and DFIR.

About the Author(s)

Dark Reading Staff

Dark Reading

Dark Reading is a leading cybersecurity media site.

Keep up with the latest cybersecurity threats, newly discovered vulnerabilities, data breach information, and emerging trends. Delivered daily or weekly right to your email inbox.

You May Also Like

More Insights