"White Hat" hackers aim to increase security, prevent hacks

"White Hat" hackers aim to increase security, prevent security breaches

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PHOENIX (KSAZ) -

According to a recent report  a 17 year old Russian man, username "ree4" was behind the computer malware attacks on Target, Neiman Marcus, and six other large U.S. retailers.

Of course it's money, and headlines some computer hackers are after but not all of them have an agenda of greed. Some hackers are online every day, making sure our accounts are safe.
    
"If you know what you're doing it's very hard to get caught, we're hackers" said Dan Petro.
    
Dan Petro is a member of an elite technical society. We met Petro at Heat Sync labs in Mesa
where members learn everything from quantum engineering, to sewing.  "Hacking has a long and storied history going back to the M.I.T. days," said Petro.
    
Besides spending time at this hacker space Petro works for a firm called Bishop Fox in which it employs hackers like Petro to find weaknesses in client security systems.  "They will hire us for their services to do all the things they don't want a bad guy to do," said Petro.
    
You may have heard about the Target Store hack where millions of shoppers had their personal information compromised. Other companies do not want that kind of publicity. "They don't want to be the next headline," he said, so they hire people like Dan.
    
So called white hat hackers the good guys like Petro find faults with computer security systems before its too late.  "Then we would teach them how we did it and then teach them how they can prevent somebody from doing that to them for real," he said.
    
Unlike the movies not all hackers are bad. "Hacking is becoming more of a 9 to 5 sort of job," said Petro.
    
"We have to remember no matter how good we get there will always be security problems," said Tim Casey, a security risk analyst.
    
Casey another white hat hacker works on the inside at a major east-valley tech firm. "Doing our sort of own internal analysis and look at things the way a hacker might look at them," said Casey.
    
Casey says that instead of breaking encrypted codes that would make any NSA analyst sweat, most hackers just ask for a password instead  something called social engineering.
    
"They started with somebody's password that they got by calling them or sending them an email pretending to be somebody," said Casey.
    
According to Casey, most security systems can keep hackers at bay. "Our physical security with regards to the Internet and computers and everything is really pretty good," he said.
    
Casey explained that security is possible but only if critical information, like passwords, is kept safe. "As long as you are aware of that and you be careful about not letting your information go to someone you don't know odds are you will be in good shape."
    
Just remember everytime you hear a report of a security breach involving your credit cards or personal information there's also a white hat hacker out there making sure it doesn't happen again.  "Hacking is a game a game of intellect but a game of consequence and you play it for keeps," said Petro.

The United States Secret Service cybercrime investigative unit has arrested almost 5,000 suspects associated with more than 1 billion in computer fraud cases in the past four years.

RELATED: Bishop Fox Global Security:  

Bishop Fox Global Security:  https://www.bishopfox.com/

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