Ethical Hackers: How ‘Bad Guys’ Became Super Heroes
On hearing the word ‘hacking’, you could be forgiven for picturing malicious silhouettes hunched over computers; criminals intent on stealing data and bringing down government systems. In the world of hacking, they are referred to as ‘black hats’ but, as strange as it may sound, there is a whole other side to the world of hacking: the ‘white hats’; the ethical hackers.
And it seems their services are very much in demand.
Florian Reppin and Paul Charles, NonStop Recruitment consultants, have been supporting companies searching for ‘white hats’ – ethical hackers – for some time now and say the war for cybersecurity talent is only just heating up.
As Paul explains, an ethical hacker is someone who tries to access a system in order to evaluate its security, rather than trying to access with malice. If companies can understand how their computer and security networks work and where vulnerabilities are, they can focus on solutions to prevent malicious attacks.
But in an increasingly digitised world, this rather young industry is very much in demand and employers are therefore often revising their talent attraction strategies.
“We’ve all seen the headlines about hackers stealing billions of euros, which understandably makes companies worried, particularly with GDPR coming in soon,” Florian says.
“And to ensure they get the right kind of hacking talent, companies are having to be rather flexible. For example, we recently introduced an ethical hacker to a small Munich-based company, but the guy didn’t want to move from his Hamburg home, so the company considered opening an office in Hamburg just to secure this talent.”
In another example, a UK-based company covered a trip to Las Vegas for a hacker to attend a conference.
Companies are increasingly open to junior talent too, Paul says. Traditionally this wasn’t the case but it’s such a young industry that senior talent is hard to find so companies are instead looking for junior candidates but offering training and development.
Training is something also on offer to freelancers, which is something not really usual in other companies but a part of overall talent attraction strategies. Other perks for freelancers, also more common for permanent employees, include family health care, financial support, training and more in order to secure their services too.
Paul and Florian are mainly working with organisations and consultancies based in the UK and the DACH region, including banks, insurance companies and Central Government. That means some high-level confidential projects and not being able to give much detail to candidates about their would-be missions but as Paul says, “that’s what makes this job so exciting”.
As for the future, Paul and Florian have some ambitious targets for their cyber security niche.
“Cyber is very broad; there is no shortage of ideas. So far, we are mostly specialised on attack so we want to expand into sales and defence. We intend to cover more countries in the world too. France, Italy and Spain are our priorities.”