Have you ever heard of a white hat hacker? These practitioners of “ethical hacking” expose vulnerabilities in a website’s infrastructure and notify the owner before more sinister hackers can take advantage. As technology evolves, the role of ethical hacking become increasingly important, but it’s also important to take a look back at where all it started.

Computer penetration testing has been around since the early days of the computer itself. At first practiced primarily by governments, once the Internet went mainstream in the late 90’s ethical hacking began to grow in popularity, with companies investing heavily into testing the security of their sites.

Today, total industry spending on ethical hacking is over $70 billion per year, and for good reason. As we live our lives more and more online, and we integrate technology into our daily functioning, we’ve become dependent on the “good guys” to catch the mistakes so that our data, and our lives, are kept safe.