When the mid-90s cult classic Hackers hit the big screens, movie moguls gave mainstream viewers a small look into the world of those who dig into computers for less than legal reasons. To this day, hackers still see the movie as being true to form.
Hackers have their own culture, language and ethics, but how do law enforcement agencies see these individuals? In the world of computers, there is a difference between those who do right and those who work illegally, but what is it?
White hat hackers
White hat hackers, sometimes called ethical hackers, have good intentions when delving into computers. Companies, governments and organizations may hire them to search out vulnerabilities in security systems.
White hat hackers join forces for good, but law enforcement can still target them. Black hat hackers may appropriate codes for their illegal schemes. Like fingerprints, federal agencies can find the individual who used the code, although it could lead the Federal Bureau of Investigation or other law enforcement agencies to the wrong person.
Black hat hackers
As suggested, black hat hackers are the bad guys who do not have good intentions. Having advanced knowledge of computer systems, they dive into computer systems to search for information they can use for financial gains, such as holding someone’s data “hostage.”
The FBI has its own Cyber’s Most Wanted page seeking information to find hackers such as those wanted for malware attacks, fraud and identity theft.
There are those who have extensive computer knowledge and use what they find for legal and illegal purposes. However, law enforcement agencies may look at both sides to solve a crime.