Why More Founders Should Think Like Hackers

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Who would know better about protecting a complex system from exploitation than a gifted hacker tasked with destroying it?

That is how the now decades-old cottage industry of white-hat hackers continues to thrive across sectors in tech development. For those unfamiliar, a “white hat” refers to an ethical security hacker, typically hired by companies or governments to identify security vulnerabilities in a system or software. These hackers operate under the owner’s consent to test out many attacks against programs or even entire infrastructures to uncover potential exploitations before someone more nefarious reaches it.

Despite its legal ambivalence, white hats are still commonly used as a high-intensity stress test, specifically in cybersecurity. More recently, “white hat” has become a marketing term used to launch products created by individuals with a past in more unscrupulous hacking circles —repurposing their skills to create a product or program of superior, “hacker-proof” quality.

Related: Be Afraid! 8 New Hacks From the Black Hat Conference That Should Scare You.

But the concept of a white hat or products created by a benevolent troublemaker has fallen out of style in many mainstream fields of tech development. Now, any tech entrepreneur is a free agent to whichever tech trend happens to be in vogue, and “disruptors” is a hollow buzzword deployed by startup marketing teams.

Just look at how many projects and funds have pivoted back to AI now that the industry is reaching new heights of innovation and adoption. Trends drive funding and growth in any industry, but it becomes increasingly apparent when leading funds and investors radically change the projects they back, and every other accelerator follows suit to ride a wave. It creates an environment where worthy projects might miss out on valuable funding or attention because their industry isn’t in a trendy tech investment listicle.

With that in mind, do entrepreneurs and investors have the wrong mindset when exploring certain tech sectors?

Part of the charm of white hat security comes from adopting a new perspective on a…