No Ethical Hacking, Please!

We still see quite a market for ‘ethical’ hacking out in the information security consulting world. However, if this type of activity should have a name, it would be wise the name would be descriptive, right? Rather than deceiting, swindling… We certainly won’t do that, sir, no way.

We’d call it ‘ethical’ if the purpose of it all would be to further the ethical goals of the ones doing it. Now take a look at who’s doing it. ‘Ethical’ hacking. And for what: Moneyyy! Hey indeed, it is the consultants and Big4 accountants that will only and exclusively do it for the money. You say No? Have you tried to talk off just an hour of their bills because the hacking that they do (more on that, below), serves some ethical purpose that they are happy to work on for free ..? A great many would consider doing just anything that pays and not doing any of it otherwise, the direct opposite, the utmost perversion of ‘ethical’ behaviour. Yet, that’s where we are with ‘ethical’ hacking.

Now for the ‘hacking’ part. Most of that is non-existent again. It’s primarily penetration testing using off-the-shelf freeware tools. Can be done from any phablet while driving, or it’s so outdated that it should serve no purpose. OK, you got me there. Even antiquated tools will find big holes in clients’ defenses that could and should have been fixed aeons ago, you know, decades of internet time (a couple of years in our time). And about that entering through a small hole: it’s still rather common to not go there, stay virgin and only do some port scanning.
So, [except for the few good men that do understand what they’re concocting] no hacking together one’s own new baby tools takes place. Yes, hacking, as in state-of-the-art coding (programming for those of you who have been hibernating the last decade) without the need for any bureaucrat’s architecture principles but with a deep understanding of languages’ strenghts and pitfalls.

So there we have it. Let loose some basic scanning tools, write up a fat report with some fancy letterhead and the usual suspects in findings; long live copy-paste, and bill ‘em for some ridiculous amount that goes straight into the coffers of some elderly gentlemen partners that don’t know how to use the Internet … except for, well, you know, searching for pictures.

Therefore, in search for a truthful descriptory name, let’s either revert to ‘penetration testing’ which for most men wouldn’t feel comfortable or even just ‘port scanning, or find some new designation. Mammon scanning, or so. But let’s not call it ‘ethical’ ‘hacking’ – two humongous wrongs don’t make a right.

Next up, maybe, a rephrased repost of @meneer’s #ditchcyber argument.

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