18 September 2015

The Ethical Hacker - Oxymoron

Someone in my class used this term earlier this week and I had to respond to it. I'm tired of people using these two words together as if anyone at a professional level wouldn't be completely offended by it. There is no such thing as an ethical hacker. Please stop using these two words together. They make up the truest oxymoron in existence today. DON'T DO IT!


1. a person or thing that hacks.
2. Slang. a person who engages in an activity without talent or skill:

a. a person who has a high level of skill in computer technology or programming; a computer expert or enthusiast.

b. a person who circumvents security and breaks into a network, computer, file, etc., usually with malicious intent.

[eth-i-kuh l]

1. pertaining to or dealing with morals or the principles of morality; pertaining to right and wrong in conduct.

2. being in accordance with the rules or standards for right conduct or practice, especially the standards of a profession.

Seriously, I don't like the term ethical hacker. Professional experts who access systems using skills other than ones known to the average user are not hackers, a term connoting persons hacking away at something until they gain access to what is needed. An expert who legally utilizes skills in order to access systems does so in a methodical approach.

What makes it legal is the owner of the system requests their expertise to assist in accessing areas where they've lost capabilities in doing so. There's no reason to tie the word "ethical" to a negative term in order to indicate the opposite of that term which refers to IT professionals who already carry titles such as Systems Engineers, Network Analysts, Security Analysts, etc.

Hackers are criminals. There is nothing "ethical" about hacking. You are gaining access to a system in which you do not have permission to access. Would you ever refer to a locksmith as an ethical burglar?

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