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May 2004

Industry needs less ethical computer hacking, more risk management strategies

I recently shared a lecturn at a security conference in London with a speaker who proudly proclaimed to the audience that he was a "white hat hacker." You could practically hear the spurs jangling. Such pompous claims of hero status were common during the dot-com heyday, when infosecurity pros were rough-and-tumble cowboys trying to tame the digital Wild West. But we no longer need white hats to protect us against black hat villains. The excitement of dueling with hackers was a lure that attracted far too many of today's info-security practitioners into our profession. Consequently, the prairie is littered with people who are easily distracted by glitzy technology and the prospect of adventure. Turned off by the day-to-day requirements of security management, these cowboys want to play Wyatt Earp--on company time, with company money. Who can blame them? There's nothing sexy about setting policies, hardening and patching systems and managing change. In spite of the growing prominence of certifications such as the CISSP, there are...

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