The media & entertainment industry has sensationalized what it means to be a “hacker” and tends to paint them all with a dark, broad brush. Viewing all hackers as cybercriminals and nefarious actors is inaccurate and outright unfair. In fact, one of the very best ways for an organization to protect their employees and information assets from cyber threats is to go beyond basic cyber security education and teach employees how to actually think like hackers themselves. 

Ethical or “White Hat” hackers typically embody the very best qualities of exemplary computer specialists of the modern digital era. Indeed, they are insatiably curious about technology and are constantly striving to figure out how something works and how to use it to make the digital world a safer place. Additionally, they tend to be extremely effective problem-solvers through their extensive knowledge, creativity, perseverance, and ability to truly think outside the box. 

Hackers do not view the cyber world and modern technological landscape through rose-colored glasses as most of us often do. They are infinitely more aware of technology’s limitations and understand that all software is inherently vulnerable. A hackers’ healthy skepticism allows them to understand that technology can do as much harm as it can do good, and that software will inevitably end-up being used for more than its original purpose. It is for this reason, amongst others, that it is crucial for organizations to start developing the hacker mindset within their own workforce. This mindset and culture alignment will boost cybersecurity preparedness and foster a more creative and curious workforce, all of which will be extremely beneficial in a near-future to be dominated by system automation and artificial intelligence. 

Sharing Cybersecurity Incidents 

Cultivating a culture of comprehensive information sharing within your organization breaks down team silos and bolsters cybersecurity capabilities both directly and indirectly. It doesn’t have to be in the form of verbose reports, but drafting thoughts on findings and analysis of major incidents will benefit employees and the organization as a whole. 

Sharing information helps to build community across teams and engender a sense of a shared objective. This ultimately creates a workforce that is more aware of the importance of cybersecurity and one that is more capable of identifying and dealing with existing and potential threats. Extensive communication and openness when organizations are dealing with major cyber-attacks is important, but it is the day-in and day-out activities taken and not taken that truly matter the most. Security teams need to send out updates and at times even hold open Q&A for the entire company so that end-users are continuously educated and empowered. 

No matter how talented your security team may be, the vast majority of cyber threats exploit inevitable human errors. It is easy to overlook something important when people are looking at the same dashboard every single day. Internal collaboration and the leveraging of outside security experts to provide a “fresh set of eyes” and perspectives on potential vulnerabilities are crucial over the long-term. As technology continues to evolve, it is becoming more and more important for us all to think and act like hackers. It enables employees to manage and embrace fast technological advances and also keeps them from falling prey to the true criminal elements within the hacker community.