To exploit or not to exploit

Thursday, 11 December 2003, 12:31 PM EST

Hackers tread a thin boundary of what is and is not legally accepted, and what is and is not ethical. They explore computer systems, prod for vulnerabilities, and hope to discover a flaw that has gone unnoticed so far.

Whatever they do with the discovered flaw, the company responsible for the system will release a “patch” that should plug the hole.

The problem doesn't stop there because not everyone bothers to patch his computer. Most viruses and hackings take advantage of known flaws, which can easily be fixed by a patch that was available months ago.

The problem is only made worse by the fact that some hackers release codes better known as exploit codes that could be used to compromise a system with a vulnerability that has not been patched.

“It is very easy to see just the harmful side of exploits. Your average malicious user has no use for exploit codes other than to commit crimes and cause problems,” said H.D. Moore, a founding member of Digital Defence.

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