The word ‘hacker’ is a scary one. It conjures images of super-genius programmers breaking into your computer system, crashing it, and stealing all your money. In the movies, hackers frantically run their hands over keyboards and attack your system in seconds. In the real world, hacking is laborious and complex, and it takes far longer. But it can be just as dangerous. Also, in the real world, hackers can sometimes be the good guys.
In school, some teachers take the naughtiest students and make them hall monitors. The reasoning is these kids know all the tricks, so they can (a) catch offenders more easily and (b) reduce school ‘crime rates’ by being taken out of the equation. The hacking world works the same way. Many times, when a hacker successfully breaks into a system, a system might hire them to stop others from breaking in. It makes them ‘white hat’ hackers.
Some argue that white hat hackers aren’t the best in the game. After all, many of them became white hat hackers because they got caught. Still, you’re safer with a white hat than no hat at all. Their job is to actively attack systems and spot vulnerabilities you need to fix. The IT security world recognizes two other hacker hats. Black hats are the criminals who steal information, while gray hats swing both ways, though they’re mostly in it for fun and bragging rights rather than overt crime or conscious cybersecurity. Hackers themselves sometimes have additional categorizations:
- Red hat – like white, but more driven by social justice than professional obligations.
- Green hat – those that are just starting out in the hacker world.
- Blue hat – a green hat with a bad attitude, the kind that leaks private sensitive information, for example.
Since white hats are the good guys, you shouldn’t have to be as worried about being vulnerable to their attacks. When they spot a security flaw, they normally tell you about it so you can fix it before someone more malicious finds out. Still, the methods that protect your from white hat evaluations will keep you safe from less kosher cyber-attacks.
Not your problem …
As a business, this isn’t something you need to do yourself, since it’s not your specialty. Instead, sign up with a payment processor that has proven security credentials and is PCI compliant. The processor likely has its own tools to keep all your customers’ data safe.
Find out whether your prospective payment processor has won any security awards from a recognized industry authority. You may also want to ask how quickly the approve accounts, verify customers, and deposit money in your acquiring bank (i.e. the bank that backs your business account).
For more information on protecting customers’ information from white hat hackers, or to sign up for a merchant account, please call (888) 924-2743 or go to Charge.com.