Would You Hire a Hacker?

Andrew Froehlich, Network Engineer & IT Consultant | 2/8/2012 | 31 comments

Andrew Froehlich
It's common practice for many companies to perform drug screenings and background checks on candidates for employment. After all, you don't want to get stuck with someone who's going to cause headaches down the road. It ensures that you are hiring people who will not cause undue harm to your business or other employees.

But for some reason, many black-hat hackers are not only celebrated, but often sought after and recruited by major corporations.

A few months back, PC Magazine listed "7 Hackers Who Got Legit Jobs From Their Exploits." I would not consider some of the people on the list, like Johnny Chung Lee, who hacked and modified Nintendo's Wiimote controller, to be unscrupulous hackers. Others I would consider to be real cybercriminals, including Michael Mooney and Kevin Paulson, who hacked Twitter, a radio station, and the FBI for no other reason than boredom and greed. Even though these hackers are true criminals, Facebook, Apple, the federal government, and others are swooping in to give them high-paying jobs.

I can understand the federal government's interest. The FBI, CIA, and other agencies deal with criminals-turned-informants every day. They have a history of working with shady people, and they know how to handle them. But I seriously doubt that most corporations really know what they're getting themselves into.

In some ways, I understand the thinking behind hiring grey- and black-hat hackers. Hacking takes a deep technical understanding of hardware and software that is difficult to find. Hackers who develop their own techniques, worms, and viruses are clearly talented, and that talent could be turned into something positive. But would you really trust them? After all, hacking isn't just about showing off your technical prowess. It's also about the thrills or "the lulz." If you ask a former hacker to stop performing criminal offenses and instead work on your legitimate projects, how long will it be before the hacker misses the thrill of the crime?

Now, I'm not saying that people can't be reformed. I realize it's possible, and I'm all for giving people second chances. I just don't think that companies should seek out hackers and effectively reward them for misdeeds. If you do that, your new employee hasn't learned anything, and you'd better prepare for that employee either leaving your company after getting bored or, even worse, doing something malicious in-house for kicks.

What do you think? Have you or would you hire someone who has knowingly been involved in a serious hacking crime?

View Comments: Newest First | Oldest First | Threaded View
Page 1 / 4   >   >>
megadl   Would You Hire a Hacker?   2/26/2012 4:38:18 AM
Hackers nowadays are a good resource to tap into. They know how to exploit a system's flaws and how to break into secure network. They can educate the corporate IT as well as the users on unsecure browsing techniques. Not all people who actually hack have evil intentions. If their efforts are properly canneled, they could be useful to a company's IT security.
Technocrat   Would You Hire a Hacker?   2/18/2012 3:42:21 AM
Re: Hackers and Practical Hypocrites: A Special Relationship

@keveend   It surly depends on the severity of the "crime".  I would want to see the prosecution of a hacker who commits intentional malicious acts ( i.e. Stolen ID, credit card information, harm to millions...etc.) whereas some "typical user" downloading songs,games or movies is not worth the expense in my book.   

 I don't like large corporations sending lawyers against the defenseless. This argument might be hypocritical, nothing is absolute. 

Except maybe death and taxes. 

The fact is there are varying degrees of severity when you look at "crimes" and this must be taken into account when deciding which ones to prosecute.

keveend   Would You Hire a Hacker?   2/18/2012 3:14:42 AM
Re: Hackers and Practical Hypocrites: A Special Relationship
@Technocrat- Why do you think it's not a crime worth suing? You say it's an "understandable crime", a crime nonetheless but you you stand saying that these people shouldn't be punished.

If you think that they should be punished, what form of punishment would you suggest?
nasimson   Would You Hire a Hacker?   2/13/2012 2:00:24 PM
A risky choice
Everybody has a talent and the disclosure of that talent is unethical if it's malicious. Criminals should always be punished but in a way that they learn out of it. Lesson is a very important part of the punishment. Initially, the overall organization should be consulted before hiring a hacker. The benefits of hiring him should be explained. In case of a benefit recovered, all of the organization should benefit. Secondly, a personality analysis of the person is required along with the efficient use of talent. On the other hand, a second chance may be risky too, in case the personality analysis was not up to the mark. I would hire a hacker for my organization only if I am sure that he has learnt a lesson. 
The major reason behind the hack would help you enough. He would need to have a job designed accordingly; catering to his needs and wants. This would result in an efficient hire.
Technocrat   Would You Hire a Hacker?   2/12/2012 8:31:15 PM
Re: Hackers and Practical Hypocrites: A Special Relationship

@keveend  That is a really good question.  Is it a crime ?  In the literal sense I am sure I would agree it is.  Yet in the case of both these instances, it will improve both in the end. 

Case in point, When Sony was getting their site hacked every other day, it forced Sony to finally come to grips with their issues of security. 

The rebel in me says it is an "understandable crime" but a crime nonetheless. Having said that, I don't agree that companies should be suing individuals for downloading a song or game.  

It is unfortunately the price of business, I know the Media Industry doesn't want to hear that but they are not the only ones who have to deal with the boarder less World we now live in.

The_Phil   Would You Hire a Hacker?   2/12/2012 9:20:15 AM
Re: Would you hire a hacker?
Yes because the value in what they do after a certain point is not in money, it's going against the grain and fighting for some 'cause'. Especially since a good amount of them have been in that mindset since a young age and just needed the corporate conditioning to turn them rogue for good.
keveend   Would You Hire a Hacker?   2/12/2012 2:23:12 AM
Re: Hackers and Practical Hypocrites: A Special Relationship
@Technocrat- Ah, so they are called "White Hat 'ers". Well if they are not violating any laws and not hindering others, I guess what they are doing is not so bad. What's your opinion about people who illegally add movies onto the internet?
Technocrat   Would You Hire a Hacker?   2/11/2012 12:28:06 PM
Re: Hackers and Practical Hypocrites: A Special Relationship

@keveend  I sure do !  I am speaking of those ethical hackers out there ( known as White Hat 'ers) as opposed to the Black Hat'ers you are talking about.

Hacking and Hackers need not be a dirty word, it is just like everything else - It depends on the individual.

keveend   Would You Hire a Hacker?   2/10/2012 11:47:53 PM
Re: Hackers and Practical Hypocrites: A Special Relationship

I see that you have an "optimistic" attitude about hackers but don't you think it's a crime when someone tries to hack into a software or a site without the permission from it's owner/creator?
Technocrat   Would You Hire a Hacker?   2/10/2012 3:42:43 PM
Re: Hackers and Practical Hypocrites: A Special Relationship

Hi keveend   I briefly worked at an upstart site that resembled YouTube, and our development department was filled with "hackers" who  worked behind the scenes to make all of the site work seamlessly. 

 The one I remember in particular sat in a corner, facing out towards the middle of the room, and when you would call for him, he would peer over his double-monitor setup.  He was a nice guy, yet you could always sense he was a little different, since then he went on to form his own company with considerable financial backing, so "hackers" need not be a dirty word, they are already essential to lots of platforms we now take for granted.


And to  answer your question of which industries have them besides government and spy agencies.  Well, the Financial Industry uses them en mass - though they would hate to admit it, as well as the major Telco's.  Any place where the technical requirements are harsh you can believe a "hacker" is employeed somewhere inhouse.
Page 1 / 4   >   >>

The blogs and comments posted on EnterpriseEfficiency.com do not reflect the views of TechWeb, EnterpriseEfficiency.com, or its sponsors. EnterpriseEfficiency.com, TechWeb, and its sponsors do not assume responsibility for any comments, claims, or opinions made by authors and bloggers. They are no substitute for your own research and should not be relied upon for trading or any other purpose.

More Blogs from Andrew Froehlich
Andrew Froehlich   5/6/2014   13 comments
Not all clouds are equal. That's a pretty obvious statement that we can all agree on. Cloud service providers offer differing levels of services, redundancy, and customer service -- all at ...
Andrew Froehlich   4/30/2014   10 comments
In order for enterprise employees to work together as one unified group, they must follow carefully written policies and procedures -- but every once in a while, you may find yourself in ...
Andrew Froehlich   4/22/2014   49 comments
For those of us who study enterprise IT security, last year's Target store hack turned out to be a fantastic case study that was loaded with lessons to learn.
Andrew Froehlich   4/16/2014   22 comments
With news that Google slashed the price of their big-data offering "Big Query" by up to 85 percent, one has to wonder if the move is to ward off competitors -- or simply that the ...
Andrew Froehlich   3/18/2014   27 comments
At a recent South By Southwest Interactive conference in Austin, Edward Snowden said the NSA is "setting fire to the future of the Internet." In light of this, the World Wide Web ...
Latest Archived Broadcast
We talk with Bernard Golden about accelerating application delivery in the cloud.
On-demand Video with Chat
Register for this video discussion to learn how tablets can provide true business usability and productivity.
E2 IT Migration Zones
IT Migration Zone - UK
Why PowerShell Is Important
Reduce the Windows 8 Footprint for VDI
Rethinking Storage Management
IT Migration Zone - FR
SQL Server : 240 To de mémoire flash pour votre data warehouse
Quand Office vient booster les revenus Cloud et Android de Microsoft
Windows Phone : Nokia veut davantage d'applications (et les utilisateurs aussi)
IT Migration Zone - DE
Cloud Computing: Warum Unternehmen trotz NSA auf die „private“ Wolke setzen sollten
Cloud Computing bleibt Wachstumsmarkt – Windows Azure ist Vorreiter
Like Us on Facebook
Twitter Feed
Enterprise Efficiency Twitter Feed
Site Moderators Wanted
Enterprise Efficiency is looking for engaged readers to moderate the message boards on this site. Engage in high-IQ conversations with IT industry leaders; earn kudos and perks. Interested? E-mail:
Dell's Efficiency Modeling Tool
The major problem facing the CIO is how to measure the effectiveness of the IT department. Learn how Dell’s Efficiency Modeling Tool gives the CIO two clear, powerful numbers: Efficiency Quotient and Impact Quotient. These numbers can be transforma¬tive not only to the department, but to the entire enterprise.

Read the full report
The State of Enterprise Efficiency in the Virtual Era: Virtualization – Smart Approaches to Maximize Gains
Virtualization is a presence in nearly all enterprise data centers. But not all companies are using it to its best effect. Learn the common characteristics of success, what barriers companies face, and how to get the most from your efforts.

Read the full report
Informed CIO: Dollars & Sense: Virtual Desktop Infrastructure
Cut through the VDI hype and get the full picture -- including ROI and the impact on your Data Center -- to make an informed decision about your virtual desktop infrastructure deployments.

Read the full report
A Video Case Study – Translational Genomics Research Institute
e2 Video

On the Case
TGen IT: Where We're Going Next

7|11|12   |   08:12   |   10 comments

Now that TGen has broken new ground in genomic research by using Dell's storage, cloud, and high-performance computing solutions, the company discusses what will come next for it and for personalized medicine.
On the Case
Better Care Through Better Communications

6|6|12   |   02:24   |   11 comments

The achievements of the TGen/Dell project could improve how all people receive healthcare, because they are creating ways to improve end-to-end communication of medical data.
On the Case
TGen IT: Where We Are Now

5|15|12   |   06:58   |   6 comments

TGen is breaking new ground in genomic research by using Dell's storage, cloud, and high-performance computing solutions.
On the Case
TGen IT: Where We Were

4|27|12   |   06:45   |   10 comments

The Translational Genomics Research Institute wanted to save lives, but its efforts were hobbled by immense computing challenges related to collecting, processing, sharing, and storing enormous amounts of data.
On the Case
1,200% Faster

4|18|12   |   02:27   |   12 comments

Through their partnership, Dell and TGen have increased the speed of TGen’s medical research by 1,200 percent.
On the Case
IT May Improve Children's Chances of Survival

4|17|12   |   02:12   |   8 comments

IT is helping medical researchers reach breakthroughs in a way and pace never seen before.
On the Case
Medical Advances in the Cloud

4|10|12   |   1:25   |   5 comments

TGen and Dell are pushing the boundaries of computing, and harnessing the power of the cloud to improve healthcare.
On the Case
TGen: Living the Mission

4|9|12   |   2:25   |   3 comments

TGen's CIO puts the organizational mission at the heart of everything the IT staff does.
On the Case
TGen Speeding Up Biomedical Research to Save More Lives

4|5|12   |   1:59   |   6 comments

The Translational Genomics Research Institute is revamping its computing to improve speed, storage, and collaboration – and, most importantly, to save lives.
On the Case
Computing Power Helping to Save Children's Lives

3|28|12   |   2:13   |   3 comments

The Translational Genomics Institute’s partnership with Dell is enabling them to treat kids with neuroblastoma more quickly and save more lives.
Tom Nolle
The Big Reason to Use Office

3|18|14   |   02:24   |   46 comments

Office and personal productivity tools come in a first-class and coach flavor set, but what makes the difference is primarily little things that most users won't encounter. What's the big issue in using something other than Office, and can you get around it?
E2 Editors
SPONSORED: Mobile Security — A Use Case

3|4|14   |   04:27   |   16 comments

New mobile security solutions can accommodate a wide array of needs, including those of a complex university environment.
Tom Nolle
Killing Net Neutrality Might Save You Money

1|16|14   |   2:13   |   16 comments

The DC Court of Appeals voided most of the Neutrality Order, and whatever it might mean for the Internet overall, it might mean better and cheaper Internet VPNs for businesses.
Tom Nolle
The Internet of Everythinguseful

1|10|14   |   2:18   |   19 comments

We really don't want an "Internet of Everything" but even building an Internet of Everythinguseful means setting some ground rules to insure there's value in the process and that costs and risks are minimized.
Tom Nolle
Maturing Google Chrome

12|30|13   |   2.18   |   25 comments

Google's Chrome OS has a lot of potential value and a lot of recent press, but it still needs something to make it more than a thin client. It needs cloud integration, it needs extended APIs via web services, and it needs to suck it up and support a hard drive.
Sara Peters
No More Cookie-Cutter IT

12|23|13   |   03.58   |   21 comments

Creating the right combination of technology, people, and processes for your IT organization is a lot like baking Christmas cookies.
Sara Peters
Smart Wigs Not a Smart Idea

12|5|13   |   3:01   |   46 comments

Sony is seeking a patent for wigs that contain computing devices.
Tom Nolle
Cloud in the Wild

12|4|13   |   02:23   |   15 comments

On a recent African trip I saw examples of the value of the cloud in developing nations, for educational and community development programs. We could build on this, but not only in developing economies, because these same programs are often under-supported even in first-world countries.
E2 Editors
SPONSORED: Is Malware Evading Your IPS?

11|18|13   |   03:16   |   4 comments

Intrusion prevention software is supposed to detect and block malware intrusions, but clever malware authors can evade your IPS in these five main ways.
Sara Peters
Where Have All the Mentors Gone?

9|27|13   |   3:15   |   38 comments

A good professional mentor can change your life for the better... but where do you find one?
Tom Nolle
SDN Wars & You Could Win

9|17|13   |   2:10   |   5 comments

VMware's debate with Cisco on SDN might finally create a fusion between an SDN view that's all about software and another that's all about network equipment. That would be good for every enterprise considering the cloud and SDN.
Ivan Schneider
The Future of the Smart Watch

9|12|13   |   3:19   |   39 comments

Wearing a bulky, oversized watch is good training for the next phase in wristwatches: the Internet-enabled, connected watch. Why the smartphone-tethered connected watch makes sense, plus Ivan demos an entirely new concept for the "smart watch."
Tom Nolle
Cutting Your Cloud Storage Costs

9|4|13   |   2:06   |   3 comments

Cloud storage costs are determined primarily by the rate at which files are changed and the possibility of concurrent access/update. If you can structure your storage use to optimize these factors you can cut costs, perhaps to zero.
Sara Peters
Do CIOs Need an IT Background?

8|29|13   |   2:11   |   23 comments

Most of the CIOs interviewed in the How to Become a CIO series did not start their careers as IT professionals. So is an IT background essential?
Ivan Schneider
The Internet Loves Birthdays

8|27|13   |   3:25   |   69 comments

The Internet has evolved into a machine for drumming up a chorus of "Happy Birthday" messages, from family, friends, friends of friends who you added on Facebook, random people that you circled on G+, and increasingly, automated bots. Enough already.