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Hackerbay: The legit website that pays you to embrace the dark side

(BUSINESS NEWS) Experienced hacker? There’s a legit site that will pay you for your skills. Seriously.

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“Criminals of curiosity”

The word “hacker” conjures many mental images in the marketplace, and very, very few of them are good. Seriously, it’s pretty much Snowden and Angelina Jolie with a pixie cut, and plenty of people don’t like Snowden.

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Past that, it’s black fedoras in basements, or Russian intelligence screwing with elections, or scumbags pulling ransomware nonsense on minor, no-consequences concerns like the National Health Service of the United Kingdom and banks and railways in Russia. Not a good look.

But let us speak of the white hat.

Hacker culture

In the grim darkness of the 1980s and 1990s, “hacker” referred less to a job description than a subculture. If your touchstones for that subculture are masterworks like the aforementioned Jolie opus, you may be surprised to learn that “hacker culture” was a real thing, albeit involving less hairspray and more breakfast cereal than is conventionally portrayed.

It goes all the way back to a culture of DIY phone enthusiasts, “phreakers,” who messed with network infrastructure in the days of Ma Bell.

I’d do a “kids, ask your parents” joke here, but seriously, it might have to be your grandparents.

The Internet hit that subculture like Southern sun on kudzu. It grew on BBSes and Usenet, through the Jargon File and the Hacker Koans and the Mentor, until it became a permanent undercurrent in the digital world: people who, for their own reasons, really like messing with data that is, and often as far as its owners know isn’t, available online.

Influential masterminds

The influence of hacker culture on the evolution of technology is incalculable. Jobs and Wozniak were both phreakers. A successful and well publicized hacker named Kevin Mitnick is basically why there is data security now.

Hackers used to be so far ahead of law enforcement that, no fooling, right in the beloved hometown of The American Genius, the US Secret Service gave a masterclass on keeping Austin weird by raiding a roleplaying game publisher because they made a game about hacking, and the Feds couldn’t tell the difference. The game company promptly sued their socks off.

For decades the gold standard for information security wasn’t corporate cryptography, and it certainly wasn’t the government, US or otherwise.

It was individuals or small groups who worked out exploits big institutions lacked the expertise to fix, and as often as not, they were doing it for fun.

What changed?

Good guys and bad guys

Institutions started paying the hackers. IBM famously coined the term “ethical hacker” and provides a nice explainer on how it works but it’s universal in the tech world. That’s the white hat.

Black hat hackers hack things in ways you wish they wouldn’t. White hat hackers hack in ways you ask them to.

It’s a fundamental part of data security to get the smartest people you can find to try and hack holes in it, because if they can, it’s not very good, is it?

Enter HackerBay. Given the usual media narrative of “hacker” basically being Internet for “terrorist,” a job board that straight up says that’s what it’s looking for might seem nuts.

To professional nerds like your humble narrator, it takes two looks to figure out why anyone would have a problem with it.

Hackerbay

It goes like this: nerds are universal. You’re probably one yourself, though if you’re a nerd about football or makeup as opposed to SQL or Star Trek, you may not use the word. If you’re fascinated by the ins and outs of something, if there’s a subject you get into so deeply it makes other people bored, guess what: you’re one of us.

Hacking is a unique subset, not a different thing.

It’s the usual nerd ethos of, “this is fascinating and I want to understand everything about it,” applied to publicly available systems.

That has rather more socioeconomic impact than fantasy football or D&D (shh, don’t tell anyone, but those are basically the same thing), but is in the end the same impulse: the desire to understand, optimize, and play.

You can’t stop that; short of rewiring the human brain, and if you’re doing that, stop.

Instead, as with everything in the human firmware, the trick is to make it work for you. We’re talking about people so enamored of your code they futz with it for free. Pay them for it. Have them write it.

The HackerBay offer is how the market has been correcting for the hacking phenomenon since the hacking phenomenon involved 2600 hertz tones and 2400 baud modems.

In an era of malicious hacking on a large scale, HackerBay is not part of the problem. It’s an implementation of a proven solution.

#hackerbay

Matt Salter is a writer and former fundraising and communications officer for nonprofit organizations, including Volunteers of America and PICO National Network. He’s excited to put his knowledge of fundraising, marketing, and all things digital to work for your reading enjoyment. When not writing about himself in the third person, Matt enjoys horror movies and tabletop gaming, and can usually be found somewhere in the DFW Metroplex with WiFi and a good all-day breakfast.

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Business News

What COVID-19 measures do workplaces have to take to reopen?

(BUSINESS NEWS) Employers can’t usually do medical screenings – but it’s a little different during a pandemic.

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COVID-19 temp gun

Employers bringing personnel back to work are faced with the challenge of protecting their workforce from COVID-19. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) have issued guidelines on how to do so safely and legally.

Employee health and examinations are usually a matter of personal privacy by design through the American’s with Disabilities Act. However, after the World Health Organization declaration of the coronavirus as a pandemic in March, the U.S. EEOC revised its guidance to allow employers to screen for possible infections in order to protect employees.

Employers are now allowed to conduct temperature screenings and check for symptoms of the coronavirus. They can also exclude from the workplace those they suspect of having symptoms. The recommendations from the CDC also include mandatory masks, distant desks, and closing common areas. As the pandemic and US response evolves, it is important for employers to continue to monitor any changes in guidance from these agencies.

Employers are encouraged to have consistent thresholds for symptoms and temperature requirements and communicate those with transparency. Though guidance suggests that COVID-19 screenings at work are allowed by law, employers should be mindful of the way they are conducted and the impact it may have on employer-employee relations.

Stanford Health Care is taking a bold approach by performing COVID-19 testing on each of its 14,000 employees that have any patient contact. They implemented temperature scanning stations at each entrance, operated by nurses and clinicians. The President and CEO of Sanford Health Care said, “For our patients to trust the clinical procedures and trials, it was important for them to know that we were safe.”

Technology is adapting to meet the needs of employers and identify symptoms of COVID-19. Contactless thermometers that can check the temperature of up to 1,500 people per hour using thermal imaging technology are now on the market; they show an error margin of less than one-tenth of a degree Fahrenheit. COVID-19 screening is being integrated into some company time-clocks used by employees at the start and end of each shift. The clocks are being equipped with a way to record employee temperatures and answers to a health questionnaire. Apple and Google even collaborated to bring contact tracing to smart phones which could help contain potential outbreaks.

Fever, coughing, and difficulty breathing are the three most common symptoms of COVID-19. Transmission is still possible from a person who is asymptomatic, but taking the precautions to identify these symptoms can help minimize workplace spread. This guidance may change in the future as the pandemic evolves, but for now, temperature checks are a part of back to work for many.

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Business News

Technology that may help you put the “human” back in Human Resources

(BUSINESS NEWS) Complicated application processes and disorganized on-boarding practices often dissuade the best candidates and cause new hires to leave. Sora promises to help with this.

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Even in a booming economy, finding the right applicant for a role can be a drawn-out, frustrating experience for both the candidate and the hiring manager. Candidates submitting their resume to an automated HR system, designed to “seamlessly” integrate candidates into their HRIS accounts, face the interminable waiting game for feedback on whether they’re going to be contacted at all.

Ironically, this lack of feedback on where a candidate stands (or even if the resume was received at all) and a propensity for organizations to list roles as “Open Until Filled”, overwhelms the hiring manager under a mountain of resumes, most of which will not be reviewed unless there is a keyword match for the role. And if they do somehow manage to see the resume, studies indicate that in less than 10 seconds, they’ll have moved on to the next one.

The problems don’t end there, however. Once the candidate and hiring manager have found one another, and the HR team has completed the hire, the dreaded phase of onboarding begins. During the first few days of a new job, a lack of effective onboarding procedures—ranging from simple tasks like arranging for technology or introductions to a workplace mentor—can be the cause of a significant amount of employee turnover. Forbes notes that 17% of all newly hired employees leave their job during the first 90 days, and 20% of all staff turnover happens within the first 45 days.

The reason, according to Laura Del Beccaro, Founder of startup Sora, is that overworked HR teams simply don’t have the bandwidth to follow up with all of those who are supposed to interact with the new employee to ensure a seamless transition experience. Focusing on building a template-based system that can be integrated within the frameworks of multiple HRIS systems, Sora’s focus is to set up adaptable workflow processes that don’t require the end-user to code, and can be adjusted to meet the needs of one or many employee roles.

In a workplace that is becoming increasingly virtual, out of practicality or necessity, having the ability to put the “human” back in Human Resources is a focus that can’t be ignored. From the perspective of establishing and expanding your team, it’s important to ensure that potential employees have an application experience that respects their time and talent and feedback is provided along the way, even when they might not be a fit for the role.

Take for example the organization who asked for an upload of a resume, then required the candidate to re-type everything into their HRIS, asked for three survey responses, an open-ended writing task, a virtual face-to-face interview, *and* three letters of reference—all for an entry-level role. If you were actually selected for an in-person interview, the candidate was then presented with another task that could take up to two hours of prep time to do—again, all for an entry level role.

Is that wrong? Is it right? The importance of selecting the right staff for your team can’t be overstated. But there should be a line between taking necessary precautions to ensure the best fit for your role and understanding that many of the best candidates you might find simply don’t want to participate in such a grueling process and just decide to move on. There’s a caveat that says that companies will never treat an employee better than in the interview process and in the first few weeks on the job—and that’s where Sora’s work comes in, to make certain that an employee is fully supported from day one.

Bringing on the best to leave them without necessary support and equipment, wondering at the dysfunction that they find, and shuffled from department to department once they get there creates the reality and the perception that they just don’t matter—which causes that churn and disconnect. Having your employees know that they matter and that they’ll be respected from day one is a basic right—or it should be.

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Business News

Trader Joe’s doesn’t want to change its controversial brand names

(BUSINESS NEWS) Branding has gone through a major change recently and many companies are agreeing to shifts, but Trader Joe’s thinks its names are fine.

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In the last few months our country has gone through a complete re-evaluation of their societal impact with their branding names. Companies that have been strong for neigh on a century are changing their names to accommodate more socio-intelligent content. Whether its from real change or from following the societal trends, the gambit of following the socio-economic climate is becoming a common theme. However the world turns next, the changes we are seeing now is creating a new world of products and status quo.

One company, though, is standing strong with their branding. Trader Joe’s, a grocery store chain, is sticking to its guns, despite some rather vocal push back. A petition aimed at the stores “racist” branding name habit has started making its way through the internet. Currently the petition has crossed the 5000-signature threshold and is getting close to its 7500 goal on change.org.

The habit of using phrases like “Trader Jose” or “Trader Ming’s” in their international food products is the main point of contention. The people behind the petition state that using names like this makes those items appear to be exotic or out of the norm like the original/traditional brand Joe – which at its very basic definition is truthful. The branding technique brands something as different than the original.

Initially a company spokesperson stated that the names were in the process of being changed, but less than a week later their tone changed. Trader Joe’s now states that while they “want to be clear; we disagree that any of these labels are racist.” They will not be changing things based on petitions. Also they report that “decades ago, our Buying Team started using product names, like Trader Giotto’s, Trader Jose’s, Trader Ming’s, etc.

We thought then – and still do – that this naming of products could be fun and show appreciation for other cultures”. According to their current reporting they have also reached out to their customer base and supposedly many customers reaffirmed “that these name variations are largely viewed in exactly the way they were intended – as an attempt to have fun with our product marketing”.

Personally, I see two major issues here. First, they are literally talking about a branding that is decades old; habits that were comedic then are now seen in a very different light. Just like an organism, society grows and changes too. If they can’t come up with new gimmicks to make themselves more popular and fresher, then they’ll most likely fall by the wayside as it is. The other issue is that their polling was specifically geared towards their current buyers; they asked their own customers whether they found this offensive. Can we all just take a collective deep breath and say biased please? Whether or not they decide to stick to their guns here is going to lay some groundwork in the future.

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