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White-Hat Hackers Blaze Saddles Across the World Wide Web

Taylor Hornecker.

There is a side of the World Wide Web that resembles the Wild Wild West. Just as the villains in old western movies wore black hats and the heroes wore white hats, today “white-hat hackers” are proving to be the John Waynes of open-source software.

High-visibility brands are becoming increasingly susceptible to “black-hat hackers” who aim to undermine the efforts of brands on the social front; with more companies than ever using social networks to promote their brands, the need for advanced security and precaution is higher than ever.

How Social Networks Use Hackers for Good

The industry’s leading social media channels, like Facebook and Google, are helping to protect brand’s accounts from security breaches through bounty programs that enlist independent “white-hat hackers” to examine their ever-changing security settings for loopholes that may leave a website, blog or social media account vulnerable to a malicious hacker.

White-hat hackers are experts in compromising computer security systems who use their abilities for good, ethical and legal purposes rather than bad, unethical and criminal purposes.

These programs allow “would-be” hackers to report issues directly to the organization, who then turn around and use the information to improve their network security. In return, white-hat hackers are offered a bounty, or reward, for their research.

These white-hat hackers are well versed in the tactics of unethical hackers and are able to identify specific accounts that may be the target of a hack. This is especially helpful to community managers who can take preventative measures to secure the account.

Bounty Hackers

Over the last two years, Facebook’s white-hat program has collectively paid more than one-million-dollars in monetary bounty to volunteers who have identified qualifying security bugs within their system.

Google’s Vulnerability Reward Program is structured similarly, offering rewards ranging from $100 to $20,000 across the following Google-owned domains:

To continue in the spirit of ethical hacking, Google even offers to match the white-hat hacker’s total compensation if that individual chooses to donate their reward to charity.

While social media platforms continue to do their part to keep your brand, and its fans’ information, safe, there’s still no such thing as an impenetrable social media account. Do your part to keep your brand’s social media accounts secure with these 9 tips for greater social media security.

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