How I Have Been Able To Hack Google, Facebook, Apple & Skype Without Facing Legal Consequences
When you rely on services like Google or Facebook you expect to enjoy a high level of security. Big companies put all their efforts in order to guarantee the safest experience possible for their users but, as you can guess, nothing is 100% secure. Also the most famous services we use everyday have suffered from security leaks and vulnerabilities in the past. There are hackers who have violated these services for malicious purposes and who have been in trouble with justice for this reason. Anyway there are also hackers who have tried to exploit security vulnerabilities inside Google, Facebook, Apple, Twitter and Microsoft web servers without getting in legal troubles. This article will focus on these people and on how they are allowed to exploit web vulnerabilities without risking a sentence from a court.
My Personal Experience as a Hacker
In my life I had the opportunity to violate servers and products realized by Google, Facebook, Apple and Microsoft. These violations, when exploited, could lead to various consequences. None of them were highly serious and my violations could be classified as moderately risky for the correct execution of services by these companies, anyway they were still something notable. When a user violates web services by exploiting vulnerabilities, this user generally gets in trouble with justice: at the end, you are doing something illegal and which is punished in several countries in the world. This never happened to me and to hundreds of other people, who have violated the most famous web services without facing issues with justice. How could it be possible?
White Hat vs Black Hat Hackers
When distinguishing between someone who violates a web service in order to harvest personal data or steal money from their users and someone who does this in order to help the company getting the vulnerability fixed, you are going to label two categories of hackers as “black hat” and “white hat”. Black hat hackers are criminals and they basically violate web services in order to pursue something which is illegal. White hat people do it in order to report their discoveries to the companies so that they get the vulnerability fixed as soon as possible. White hat hackers are immune from any legal consequence and they are also awarded with money and honorary prizes. During my experience as a white hat hacker, I have received various kinds of prizes from most of the biggest IT companies in the world, after having reported them some vulnerabilities found inside their web services. These prizes involved money bounties and mentions in pages like the Google Hall of Fame, the Facebook White Hat list, the Apple Web Server Notifications and a Microsoft blog page for the release of a version of Skype.
The General Behaviour of a White Hat Hacker
A white hat hacker generally has to abide to specific agreements with the company who manages web services he is trying to violate. In general, in order to benefit of the white hat immunity against legal actions and in order to be eligible for bounties and awards, a hacker must abide to the following rules:
- non-disclosure agreement: all the discoveries must be kept secret and they should be shared only with the security team of the web service the hacker has violated. Only after the vulnerabilities get fixed he can share his discoveries with other people. There is an evident reason for this rule: if the hacker discloses unfixed vulnerabilities to other people, they can exploit these.
- when trying to exploit a vulnerability the hacker has to put the maximum effort in avoiding damages to user data or service down times. He has to limit attacks to the minimum required to discovery the vulnerability, without going further.
- when discovering a vulnerability he should directly report it without trying to get a personal and unfair benefit from it. If he steals personal data or does something else illegal he is still considered a black hat hacker even if he reports the vulnerability after having exploited it.
This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.
© 2019 Alessio Ganci