Michael Lynn, Tiffany Rad, and Dan Kaminsky all have something in common. They are all hackers. The names don’t ring a bell? That may be because they are famous for being white hat hackers which is the good kind. It sounds like an oxymoron, but it is quite common. Although, the most publicized hacker is the black hat hacker.  There are three variety of hackers: white, grey, and black hat hackers.

White Hats

White hat hackers are who you want on your business team. A white hat hacker explores the company’s systems and discovers where the holes may be. They uncover places were security is weak and notify the company.  Most of the time companies are very responsive and eager to fix the flaw. However, when Yosi Dahan discovered a security issue on United Airlines’ website, he reached out to the company and alerted them to this error. Much to Yosi's surpise, the company did not respond. This seems to be a tendency with White Hat hackers.

Black Hats

On the opposite end of the spectrum are Black Hat hackers. When they find a security flaw they misuse it for their own gain. Their behavior is malicious. A quick Google search will reveal several examples of Black hat hackers. Kevin Mitnick, for example, was an infamous black hat hacker who became known as the “most wanted computer criminal in history” by the Department of Justice by hacking into Motorola, Nokia and Sun Microsystems and other companies. But his story doesn't there, after spending some time in prison, he now is a white hat and leads other white hat hackers in his company, Mitnick Security.

Grey Hats

Like other things in life, not everything is black and white, there are several grey areas. Grey hat hackers are no exception to the rule. They commit crimes not by stealing data or information but by not receiving permission to hack a company’s system. So while they may not use the information for their own gain, they still compromise the system without permission. In addition, once grey hat hackers discover a flaw in a company’s website, they will not necessarily inform the company. Instead, they might release the information to the public and those people can use the information however they choose.

Hackers are numerous and data breaches much more frequent than most wish. So to protect yourself from hackers here are 4 suggestions that you need to do right now:

1. Password Protection

Having good passwords is so important! This involves a few different elements. First, do not use the same password for multiple accounts. Change it up and keep it straight. To do so effectively, use a password manager. There are several different options available online. For your passwords, make sure that they are complicated. It should be random and not personally connected to your life.

2. Be wary of where you connect to the internet

Restaurants, hotels, grocery stores, and coffee shops all boast free Wi-Fi. It is a real selling point for several businesses. However, users who are not careful could connect to an unprotected internet and invite the hacker in. Public networks are not known for top security so be careful what you access while surfing the web.

3. Check email with caution

Once you open or click on links in an email, especially from an unfamiliar sender, it could open a door for a hacker to get in. Be careful what emails you open and what links you click on. Just like you wouldn’t leave your backdoor unlocked, you don’t want to leave your system vulnerable to attacks. If the email address or message sound suspicious,  do not trust the it. Delete instead of opening.

4. Hire a White Hat Hacker

At a business level, hire someone to execute a risk and security assessment.  Try to hack the network, probe it, and show the vulnerabilities.  i3 can help or point you in the right direction.

Data breaches and hacks are more of a question of ‘when’ rather than ‘if’. Be prepared and educated about the risk!

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Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.