September 18, 2020

What Color Is My Hat?

An article by Rob Lemos at news.com discusses the differences between “white hat,” “gray hat,” and “black hat” hackers. The article lists me as a gray hat.

In my book, there is no such thing as a gray hat. If you break into a computer system without the owner’s permission, or if you infringe a copyright, then your hat is black. Otherwise your hat is white.

This article, like so many others, tries to pin the “gray hat” image on anyone whose actions make a technology vendor unhappy. That’s why the article classifies me as a gray hat – because my research made the RIAA unhappy.

As a researcher, my job is not to make vendors happy. My job is to discover the truth and report it. If the truth makes a vendor look good, that’s great. If the truth makes a vendor look bad, so be it.