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Chapter 11. Security > Stay Informed

Stay Informed

It doesn't take much to stay informed on the important security matters of the day. Regularly scan the headlines or sign up for email newsletters at technology Web sites such as PCMag.com or Lockergnome.com, and you'll see the issues that merit your attention. If you find you have a deeper interest in security and hackerdom (from the side of goodness and light, naturally), you can check out more targeted sites such as grc.com (from security guru Steve Gibson) and BroadbandReports.com (geared especially for broadband users). For information on specific viruses, go to antivirus sites such as Symantec.com.

Are You a Good Hacker or a Bad Hacker?

In hackerdom's fanciful language, the good guys are called “white hats” and the bad “black hats.” White hats are the intellectual and spiritual heirs of the “pure hackers” of the Internet's youth. They want to know how things work, and they want to make things work better. White hats generally favor full disclosure of all bugs, trusting to the marketplace to provide the incentive to fix them. In the same spirit, they also tend to support the open source movement, where companies reveal to the world the source code that makes up their applications.

Whereas black hats make hacker tools, white hats make utilities that test your system for vulnerabilities. Steve Gibson, for example, has created many such tools. The most famous is ShieldsUp, a free service. ShieldsUp runs a series of mock attacks against you from Gibson's Web site, grc.com. You can see for yourself how well your current security works. If you're coasting along without protection, it can be a sobering experience.

Other white hats dedicate themselves to spreading the gospel of security to other techies and the general public. In addition to grc.com and BroadbandReports.com, these folks hang out in discussion forums at sites such as Wilders.org, ComputerCops.biz, and of course, Whitehats.com.

One final note: There are also “gray hat” hackers who illegally break into systems, then typically let the targets know so they can plug the holes. (Often, these gray hats are consultants looking for work.) Technically law breakers, these gray hats argue that they're on the side of the angels.



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