According to a report from the British Computer Society (BCS) covering a Security Panel Strategic Forum, “ethical hacking” is an oxymoron.

The report highligths do’s and don’t when it comes to defining terms like “hacker”, “ethical hacking”, “penetration tester”, “white/black hats”, and derivatives terms. These labels are frequently used in the IT industry. The report also underscores which terms should not be used by schools offering IT courses.

The problem with defining and redefining such labels is that there will always be others disagreeing with/circumventing said definitions.

For instance, in the December 1986 issue of MicroTimes, Bob Bickford wrote:

“A Hacker is any person who derives joy from discovering ways to circumvent limitations.”

If we accept this definition then a person that doesn’t derive any joy from discovering ways to circumvent limitations is not a hacker. Similarly a spouse cheater, an SEO, a spammer, a politician, a mobster, or a kid trying to get some candies from mom is a hacker.

I am taking this extreme, off-topic interpretation to illustrate the problem of semantics when it comes to defining things.

Whether you agree or disagree partial or totally with the report, it is a good read. For sure it will be a good piece for students planning to take my AIRWeb graduate course.