There has been significant media coverage in the last few years about computer hacking and the people who use technology for malicious attacks. However, more and more companies are finding productive uses for individuals who are skilled hackers and programmers as expert security advisers. Anyone who has significant knowledge of cybersecurity and hacking practices is likely to find an employer who will benefit from their services.
White Hat, Black Hat
Within the computer science industry, there are several different designations used for people who regularly try to exploit computer security systems. Recently, discussion has centered around "black hat" hackers due to the number of major security breaches at retailers and online organizations. These individuals use their computer knowledge to break into secured servers and often try to steal information for their own profit.
On the other hand, "white hat" hackers are those who choose to use their skills for benevolent purposes. This is where a computer science degree and the right company can lead to a very lucrative career in the technology industry.
As government regulation of information and customer profiles increases, and more companies seek ways to keep their own data secure, they are turning to these once demonized hackers to give them helpful hints. Many companies now employ or contract white hat professionals to help them conduct penetration testing on their own systems. These tests allow hackers to attempt breaking through company firewalls in a controlled environment, and point out weak points to their employers. They may also provide a number of solutions that will provide enhanced security and fewer data breaches in the future.
The number of job openings available to white hat hackers will continue to increase as computer hacking continues to be an ongoing issue in the world. With the increased use of mobile and cloud based technologies, new developers will need to stay ahead of the curve when dealing with potential risks in their security systems. This has led to a growth in the number of security engineering positions that have also opened up to people within the hacking community. In fact, the entire cybersecurity field is expected to grow by 18% in the next ten years, far out pacing many more traditional industries in job growth.
While computer hacking has had a bad reputation since the internet became a household mainstay, the reality is that there is viable and important work available to anyone who proves they have the skills to test and develop better security systems. Those individuals who choose to take on this kind of work will have the opportunity to lead the charge against malicious attacks, and will have many opportunities with a wide range of customers including retailers and the government itself. A computer science degree and experience working within controlled penetration testing parameters can be the way to a lifelong career path.