This year’s Black Hat Conference in Nevada was used as a platform to raise awareness regarding the Government’s disconnect between themselves and the hacking community. Prematurely judged as being a negative term, ‘hacking’ pertains to both Black Hat & White Hat work — either you’re trying to break into a system with the goal of increasing security, or you’re trying to break into the system because it’s a Tuesday and there isn’t anything on except American Idol reruns. Both ‘hats’, however, are necessary parts of the security ecosystem. Most conglomerates have not yet taken into consideration an increasingly popular trend of hiring Black Hats and offering them cushy positions as White Hats. Those who have capitalized on this insight have been able to reap the benefits of having an ‘insider’ who can prepare them adequately for seemingly unforeseen circumstances.
The Department of Defense’s Advanced Research Projects Agency(DARPA) has stood at the forefront of the effort to reconnect with hackers by announcing the Cyber Fast Track, a program that will provide individual grants to independent security researchers across the nation. The majority of researchers who have provided invaluable input in the IT Security field are doing so without pay, outside of their normal 9 to 5 jobs. The disconnect between Government and hacking is obvious– their line of work isn’t always what most would consider to be ‘clean’ — the exposing of vulnerabilities is a touchy subject at the least. Understanding the passion that these individuals have towards their work is admirable, and providing something that will benefit this line of work is a great start to securing different Government entities.
Our prediction is that numerous other entities will begin to move towards this trend of ‘If you can’t beat them, join them’ in the next year, as technology moves forward into the mobile and ‘cloud’ realms, potentially enticing challenge-seeking Black Hats into pulling impressive cyberheists!