Nowhere is the termhackermore misconstrued than in the network security field. This is understandable because the very same tools that network security professionals use to probe the robustness of their own networks also can be used to launch attacks on any machine on the Internet. The difference between system administrators legitimately testing their own machines and system crackers attempting to gain unauthorized access isn’t so much a question of techniques or tools, but a matter of intent. After all, as with any powerful piece of technology, a security tool isn’t inherently good or bad—this determination depends entirely on howit is used. The same hammer can be used to either build a wall or knock it down.
The difference between “white hat” and “black hat” hackers lies not in the tools or techniques they use (or even the color of their hats), but in their intentions. The difference is subtle but important. White hat hackers find that building secure systems presents an interesting challenge, and the security of such systems can be truly tested only through a thorough knowledge of howto subvert them. Black hat hackers (more appropriately calledcrackers) pursue precisely the same knowledge, but without regard for the people who built the systems or the servers they attack. They use their knowledge to subvert these systems for their own personal gain, often to the detriment of the systems they infiltrate.
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