Dressed in a bespoke three-piece suit that appears to be tailored from Savile Row, Joseph Carson could be a high-powered executive who spends his days in boardrooms or Wall Street.
Instead, Carson is a "white hat" ethical hacker who looks for security vulnerabilities in the networks and websites of major companies. Serving as the chief security scientist at Thycotic, a Washington D.C.-based provider of privileged account management (PAM) solutions, he defies the stereotypical image of a hacker conjured by Hollywood screenwriters.
While hackers are portrayed as loners who don their ubiquitous black t-shirts underneath their hoodies to conduct nefarious acts such as changing a college student's grades or stealing a company's proprietary secrets to sell on the Dark Web, in reality many work for publicly traded companies as C-level executives and startup founders, are very social, are not Millennials and speak several languages.
The negative connotations associated with being a hacker or hacking is a fallacy.
"The primary driving force for change and new inventions in this field is hacking," said Chris Roberts, chief security architect at Acalvio, a Santa Clara, Calif.-based provider of advanced threat detection and defense solutions. "It is the simple ability to understand the status quo and be able to change it."
A hacker is someone who wants to change how things are done by finding a better method, said Jason Glassberg, co-founder of Casaba Security, a Seattle-based firm specializing in ethical hacking and software assurance.
"We are all hackers in our community," he said. "A hacker wants to add new features and services, democratize services and products and make the world better, safer, cheaper and more fair. Hackers are just like ordinary software testers or quality control engineers, except they test to see the result of failure, not success. A normal engineer tests to ensure their product works as designed. The hacker tests to see how it works when it is broken on purpose."
Here are the top ten things most people do not know about hackers.
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