You might not have heard of the White Hat Alliance before. But that’s just the way they tend to like it. They’re an anonymous (though not Anonymous) network of hackers from around the world working together for some big name clients to find the flaws in their digital security. They claim to have worked with companies from Exxon Mobil through to JPMorgan Chase, and via Macy’s, practicing ethical hacking techniques to help these organizations protect themselves from the less ethical hackers that are out there.
They’ve been around since 2011, though have kept themselves pretty secret - except to their clients. Until now their Twitter feed (@thewhitehatteam)was pretty much their only public facing system. They’ve now launched a website http://www.thewhitehatalliance.com/, and seem to be happy to announce their existence to the world – and for the first time one of their members has publicly announced his identity.
Robin Haynes, also referred to by his code alias ‘Black Mamba’, this week publicly declared his involvement with WHA. The young hacker is part of the UK team that works with WHA’s UK clients, and is known as a bit of a whizz kid. He built a bit of a reputation for himself through some early, but benign, hacks, proving his abilities by finding flaws in the security of a few major banks as part of a WHA team. He's a strictly ethical hacker, which is likely a big part of his willingness to disclose his identity, since he's never hacked with any malicious intent.
WHA started pretty big, landing Wells Fargo as their first client, along with a few other banks, and helping to prevent password attacks as well as a major bot attack. Suddenly they had the attention of some pretty big corporations. They’ve gone from stride to stride since then, attracting bigger clients, all while keeping their profile low.
It’s now reported that the network has grown to more than 60 hackers from across the globe, with 800,000 computer bots between them. They tend to recruit exclusively based on referrals and recommendations by existing members, but even that hasn’t stopped them from opening up to each other, as many members preserve their anonymity even with each other. For the first time they now have publicly available contact details on their website, seemingly reversing their previous system, which was to only ever approach clients directly themselves, rather than giving clients the opportunity to find them.