Google vice president says “black hat” is not a neutral term

black hat - not neutral enough

Journalists from ZDNet noticed that during the weekend there was a hot discussion in the information security community due to the “lack of neutrality” of the term black hat.

The discussion began with a series of tweets by David Kleidermacher, vice president of Google engineering, responsible for the security of Android and the Google Play Store. David Kleidermacher said that he was canceling his speech at the Black Hat USA 2020 conference and said that the terms “black/white hat”, in his opinion, were not neutral enough and should be changed.

“Black hat and white hat are terms that need to change. This has nothing to do with their original meaning, and it’s not about race alone – we also need sensible gender-neutral changes like PITM vs. MITM. These changes remove harmful associations, promote inclusion, and help us break down walls of unconscious bias. Not everyone agrees which terms to change, but I feel strongly our language needs to (this one in particular)”, — said Kleidermacher in his Twitter.

Then Kleidermacher ask all industry workers to think that concepts such as black hat, white hat and man-in-the-middle need more neutral alternatives. Although the specialist overall talked about such changes, as a result, his statements sounded like a call to change name of the Black Hat conference.

Since this conference is one of the largest events in the world dedicated to cybersecurity, Kleidermacher’s statement caused a great resonance.

Although some supported Kleidermacher, it turned out that the vast majority of members of the IS community did not share his views, and his statements were at all called ostentatious virtue elevated to absolute.

Also, a Google employee was pointed out to the obvious: the terms “black hat” and “white hat” have nothing to do with racism and skin color, because they originate in classic westerns.

“Little confused by this whole “Black Hat is racist” argument. The term came from hat colors in western movies, and has nothing to do with race. Coming up with racist connotations for non-racially charged terms, then trying to change them on those grounds just feels wrong“, — wrote in @MalwareTechBlog.

Other users have noted the dualism of black and white, which usually represents good and evil, concepts that existed at the dawn of civilization, long before racism appeared.

black hat - not neutral enough

Kleidermacher is not the first to talk about this issue. More recently, we talked about how, under the influence of Black Lives Matter protests that swept across the United States, the IT community has again returned to discuss inappropriate and offensive terminology, and many developers are currently working to remove such terms from their source codes, applications and online services.

However, it seems that only cybercriminals do not dive into the discussion of the acceptability of certain IT terms and use the BLM theme to attack users.

By Vladimir Krasnogolovy

Vladimir is a technical specialist who loves giving qualified advices and tips on GridinSoft's products. He's available 24/7 to assist you in any question regarding internet security.

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