Hackers have a pretty tarnished reputation and, if you think about it, that's probably always been the case. Has "hacking" anything really ever been looked on as being productive, positive, or beneficial? Prior to the information age, "hacking" was probably most often something done with machetes and, before that, swords. And unless you were say, hacking your way through dense jungle foliage, there's a pretty good change that what was getting hacked was human limbs.
Even today, the most common usage of the word "hack" outside the only semi-related realms of information technology (IT) and slicing things (ST) is probably either to describe 1) a bad cough ("I've been hacking up a lung"), 2) a lack of ability to cope ("I wanted to join the Marines, but after going to boot camp, I just couldn't hack it"), or 3) a fit of rage ("I'm pretty hacked off at Todd"). See what we mean? There just aren't very many positive connotations out there.
An interesting exception is the rise in IT culture of so-called "ethical" hacking. An ethical hacker, sometimes also called a "white hat" hacker or a penetration tester, is an individual who relies on knowledge of hacking to test and upgrade security systems, in essence using the tricks and tools of hackers to ultimately prevent hacking. It's essentially the same approach contained in the timeless injunction "set a thief to catch a thief," or as the kids like to say, "It takes one to know one."
Because the world needs a small army of skilled information security professionals, like, yesterday, recent months have witnessed an explosion of interest in ethical hacking training and certification. It's probably also because, let's face it, movies and TV have relentlessly conditioned us to think of hacking as being sexy and cool in a dance-with-danger, fight-the-power, hear-me-roar kind of way. It's basically the same thing that movies and TV, almost wholly inexplicably, do with hit men.
Because we here at TestOut Continuing Education are responsive to industry trends, we're excited to announce that TestOut has a course in development that will teach — and certify! — the ins and outs of proper ethical hacking. That's right, dust off your white hat and lock up your swords and machetes. Ethical Hacker Pro will be available starting Aug. 13. If you've always wanted to hack things, but still be the good guy (and not only in a movie), well, circle the date. Your big break is coming.
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