Ethical Hacking vs. Unethical Hacking

The debate on ethical hacking and unethical hacking has been around for nearly half a century. The definitions differ from all different sources. A blackhat hacker is considered malicious attacker and a whitehat hacker is consider a 'good guy'. This debate is inevitably a moral issue of right and wrong.

Kevin Mitnick is one of the more famous hackers to be jailed. He was arrested by the FBI on February 15, 1995. Mitnick was convicted of wire fraud and of breaking into dozens of computer systems including COSMOS Systems and DEC, Pacific Bell, and IBM. His unique skills hampered companies and the FBI and other police agencies for almost 4 years. After being released from prison, he is now banned from using a computer or cell phone. He travels the country giving speeches on issues of ethical hacking and computer security.

At the age of 17, Mitnick was introduced into the world of phone freaking by a high school friend. He then became a member of a phone freak gang in Hollywood. The prank calls led to more challenging quests, such as destroying files of a San Francisco computer time-sharing company and the intrusion of Pacific Bell on Memorial Day weekend in 1981. (Shimomura, 1995)

During his younger days cell phone and computer hacking was not regarded as a crime but as a intellectual accomplishment and was encouraged by families and teachers. But as cyberspace and cybercrimes grew, it was criminalized and Mitnick never caught up with newer techniques of hacking and computer security. It can be argued that the computer security world caught with him. The fine line of ethical and unethical hacking is parallel with the moral issues of society at any given time, in any given country.

David Taylor

Works Cited:

Mills, E. (2009, June 22). Q&A: Kevin Mitnick, from ham operator to fugitive to consultant. Retrieved from CNET New Security: http://news.cnet.com/8301-1009_3-10269348-83.html

Shimomura, T. (1995). Kevin Mitnick. Retrieved from Take Down: http://www.takedown.com/bio/mitnick.html


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