Most times, when a hacker gets caught infiltrating a company’s database in Tennessee, the consequence is jailtime. However, for many hackers, the consequence is instead a full-time job working for the very company whose security they compromised. Some companies are no longer waiting for the security breach either. They are proactively hiring hackers to test their defense systems.
According to CNBC, freelance hackers can make half a million dollars per year to hack Tesla and the Department of Defense — legally. It may sound too good to be true but the figures came from bug bounty companies that provide a platform for hackers to help keep other hackers away from consumer data. These platforms allow hackers to use their skills for the greater good, while making a killing. Some even maintain employment elsewhere, while others have moved on to find great jobs in cybersecurity.
Millennials and younger make up most of these hackers. Roughly 94% of ethical hackers are between the ages of 16 to 44, while some are actually still in middle school or high school. This allows them to get a jumpstart on their career, while keeping them out of trouble. Tesla is one of their biggest payors, handing out up to $15,000 for finding problems.
Ethical hackers do not only consider the wellbeing of companies. Some now instruct consumers on how to protect their personal data. According to CNN, hackers advise people to turn off their WiFi and Bluetooth more often. This prevents black hat hackers from spoofing previous connections and tricking devices into connecting to their own networks. Two-step authentication is also a great way for users to verify access to all their accounts. Finally, longer and more unique passwords go a long way toward helping to make accounts more difficult for hackers to get into.
Both companies and government agencies continue to look for new and creative ways to protect their databases. However, no hacker should assume that after a big “heist” they will receive an amazing career as compensation. Sometimes the final consequence really is time in a federal prison.