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Editor's Blog and Industry Comments

Is there a place for ethical hacking for profit?

05 September, 2007
If you're a hacker, there are maybe three things you can do with your skills. You can use them illegally either for fun, peer acceptance or profit, you can sell your results to your victim for profit or you can publicise your results freely for everybody's benefit.
The last one is what the industry wants them to do which, of course, they won't which is why a trading exchange in the hack market has been set up to encourage hackers to take up the second option which is the least damaging of the two remaining options.

Independent researchers, ethical hackers, freelance IT exploit consultants â€" whatever you call them, they make their living by breaking code and selling the results. So is this ethical and if it's prevented does it send the hackers back to option 1?

Part of the controversy surrounding this is the anonymity and the uncertainty of what other activities these people are engaged in. There is an argument that by paying them for the secrets of one hack, you could be funding a bigger project that they are less willing to reveal.

Another argument goes along the lines that by legitimising their "research", their skills are being used effectively and for true commercial benefit.

This is where the Wabisabilabi hack exchange comes into the equation. By running a legitimate operation with impeccable business practices and adequate face control, they can instil an element of commercial confidence into the process rather than large corporations having to face doing business directly with a bunch of teenage speculators.

Relatively new on the scene and with a desire to openly communicate their business model to the business community, WSLabi will be interesting to watch to see if they live up to their expectations of legitimising what has always been an extremely grey market.
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