Almost every day in the United States, savvy, determined hackers attempt to break into computer networks and pilfer valuable information. But here's the good news: Some of them are professionals, being paid to test the safety of the same computer systems you may be using regularly.
They are "ethical hackers," computer security experts hired by companies hoping to avoid costly holes in their information networks. While the term "ethical hacker" has been in use at least since the 1980s, it has only been a job description since the mid-to-late 1990s — and it seems to be an increasingly common one at the moment, as computer security becomes a booming business. Research firm IDC, of Framingham, Mass., estimates worldwide computer security revenues will expand from $19 billion in 2002 to $45 billion in 2007.
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