What Can Microsoft Teach Your Company About Engaging With The Hacking Community?

When it comes to hackers on both the black hat side and the white hat side they are pretty tenacious people. Try as you will to stop them they will still end up pretty much getting what they want in the realm of technology. These are people who spent years and years mastering their craft, not because they got paid to do it, but because they wanted to.

Human beings are curious creatures and if there is a mystery in front of us, we will try our best to solve it. Hackers have that same gene but amped up to the nth degree.

So if you are a company that has a product that has brought with it the interest of hackers, what should you do? If you try to stop them from breaking into your product then they will try to break into it anyway. If you do nothing then they might take the product in a way that you never intended.

Microsoft has decided to put its best foot forward and try to embrace the hacker community early on when it comes to their smart phones. Is this the right philosophy and would it work for your company?

I am going to take a look at this question and a few more in the following paragraphs.

What Can Microsoft Teach Your Company About Engaging With The Hacking Community?

The Background On Microsoft vs The Hackers

For years Microsoft has had an ongoing war against the hacker community. Even in the early years before Microsoft was known they had a war with the early home brew clubs when it came to their basic programming language. And the war only heated up in the years to come especially when it came to the Windows operating system. Microsoft would try to make it harder for the pirates to crack into it and the pirates would find a way around it. This dance happened over and over again and it still does to a certain extent with Windows 7.

But with the Windows 7 mobile phone Microsoft has tried another tactic. They invited several leaders in the hacker community to their campuses and invited them to give their opinion on the phone. They also gave the hackers a free phone to use and ask for their reports if they tried to reverse engineer it. This new development was reported in the press and it not only gave Microsoft a better standing in the hacking community but it also gave them a better standing in the tech community as well. And for their reaching out, hackers will feel more comfortable letting Microsoft know where the holes are at in their mobile operating system and they might even give some suggestions on how they can fix them.

Will This Work For Your Company?

While this type of strategy has worked for Microsoft it is not to say that this will work for your company as well. Microsoft is in a different position than most other companies in the world because of their sheer size. Your company might not be able to play so loose with the Intellectual Property that they have developed. Your revenue and profit margins are more than likely more narrow when compared to Microsoft and so you have to take that into account. It would be nice for your company to be able to make peace with the hacker community but all it would take is one bad apple from that community to put your company in a bad place. So you have to be sure that an idea like this would really work for you.

Just take a look at Microsoft.

While they have done a good thing with their phone they have not done that with all of their products yet. They do not give hackers free reign to the source code to Windows. Nor they do it with Office either. This is because these products are their bread butter and they must be all protected at all costs. They do not even have that much of an outreach program with the hackers of their video game console XBox 360 possibly because they feel as if they did they would kill their profit margin.

So if you are going to use Microsoft as an example make sure you take a look at the whole picture and not just part of it.

For the most part, hackers are just curious people and they want to be able to pick apart the products out there so that they can learn. But there are a lot of criminal hackers out there and this is something that you must think about when you want to reach out to them.

About Lee Munson

Lee's non-technical background allows him to write about internet security in a clear way that is understandable to both IT professionals and people just like you who need simple answers to your security questions.

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  2. […] them.Microsoft, who was once an enemy of people who would do this, now holds parties for them and invites them to the campus.When they are at the campus the white hat hackers take the time to explain to them how they found […]

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