“Mom & Dad… I want to be a hacker when I grow up!”

buildingintelligence2_smallerWhat if your child said he or she wanted to be a hacker when they grow up? What would you do? I would ask them which kind. Yes, you read that correctly: which kind. If they said a white hat hacker, I would not only say “yes,” but I would also try and help them. If you don’t know what a white hat hacker is, they are the good guys. In today’s society, at least to me, white hat hackers are equivalent of the fireman, solider, policeman that we wanted to grow up to be.


White hat hackers and cyber warfare teams are truly our frontline in defense not only of our corporate networks but also of our country’s infrastructure. In recent articles that I have read and posted, our government has begun to take seriously the threat of a “take down” of the US’s infrastructure to the point that our cyber posture is no longer defensive only. We are attacking. We are actively hunting down and putting the bad guys out of commission.


To see for yourself, use your favorite search engine and type “cyber warfare jobs.” There are plenty of opportunities for employment, but you have to have very specialized skills. One of these, in my opinion, is paramount: you have to think like a bad guy hacker, who are known as a black hat hacker. I have been reading “Hacking Exposed” by Stuart McClure, Joel Scambray and George Kurtz. Stuart’s mantra is “Think Evil, Do Good.” Just as in military warfare, you have to know your opponent in order to beat your opponent. In this book, there is a quote from Sun Tzu, the author of “The Art of War,” which was written several centuries ago:

“If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles. If you know yourself but not the enemy, for every victory gained you will also suffer a defeat. If you know neither the enemy nor yourself, you will succumb in every battle.”


I have had the opportunity to know some world class white hat hackers, and I am going to get to spend some focused, crammed pack days with them to work on developing training classes for control system security. What I have found already is that, deep down inside of me, there lives a white hat hacker. By no means do I claim to be at their level, but I found that this is a calling for me. I want to know what a black hat thinks. I want to know how to stop them in their tracks.


Whether we choose to believe it or not, America is in a “World War” of sorts. Every day there are teams of elite cyber warriors defending our cyber borders and attacking the borders of those that would do us harm in the comfort of a climate-controlled office. Make no mistake… This is warfare. History shows us what can happen in th event of a a cyber attack. Stocks tank, power goes off, other infrastructure is compromised. So if your child wants to serve this country as a white hat hacker, I say more power to them.


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About Fred Gordy

Website: https://www.mckenneys.com

Email Address: fred.gordy@mckenneys.com

Fred Gordy is the operational technology manager for the McKenney's Enterprise Intelligence Group and is responsible for the technology strategy for the Automation & Control Solutions team. Fred has focused on control system cybersecurity for the past few years and has built a network of cybersecurity professionals to grow knowledge for the control system at large. He is also the current chair for InsideIQ's cybersecurity committee. Fred's portfolio includes projects with Chevron Energy Services at Eglin Air Force Base to reduce operating expense through real-time analysis as well as developing secure power monitoring systems for a national IDC, a national retail chain, and an international media company.

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