Airlines around the globe are vulnerable to hackers. In May a hacker by the name Chris Roberts destabilized a flight from his seat. Ethical Hacking is rewarding because some hackers are employed by institutions to report different kinds of vulnerability their systems are exposed to. Two years ago a hacker was paid $100,000 by Microsoft for spotting a security flaw in Microsoft’s software.
US airline United rewarded two hackers who spotted security holes in its website with a million free flight miles each. The airline rewards hackers who privately disclose security flaws.
“Schemes like this reward hackers for finding and disclosing problems in the right way. That makes the internet safer for all of us,” said security consultant Dr Jessica Barker.
“Bug bounties are common in tech companies as they tend to understand online security a bit more, but other industries are catching up,” said Dr Barker.
Many companies nowadays reward hackers who practice responsible hacking otherwise called ethical hacking. Big technology companies such as Yahoo, Google and Facebook offer hackers cash incentives to report bugs privately.
The two hackers were forbidden from revealing the nature of the security holes they discovered.
“We believe that this program will further bolster our security and allow us to continue to provide excellent service,” United said.
“It’s not always about hackers digging around looking for flaws. A hacker may be using a service and notice something a bit off,” said Dr Barker.
“We all benefit if they look into that,” she added
BBC reports that some critics of bug bounties say they can discourage companies from hiring professional security staff, because it’s cheaper to offer hackers cash for disclosing bugs.
Dr Barker disagrees: “It should be part of an overall approach to security, but it’s definitely a good approach.
“It encourages positive behavior and shows young hackers that they can benefit from doing the right thing.
“Bounties can also benefit smaller companies who can’t afford to give out cash rewards but can offer free products or services, so I hope we’ll see more and more bug bounties,” she said.
Hackers have taken advantage of their skills to create agencies that do illegal bidding for governments and big institutions around the world. Last week The Hacking Team an Italian company that sells surveillance tools to governments and intelligence agencies was exposed by some hackers. As much as we celebrate ethical hacking some hackers are destroying the good ethical practice done by others.