Good verse evil can not easily be determined. However, if a hat
color helps show a persons true colors, it certainly helps. White
hat symbolism indicates that a white hat represents good. However,
don't count on this in real life. It is mostly symbolism and
obviously can't be used to determine a persons behaviors or
characteristics. Don't judge a book by its cover. Also,
don't judge a person by the color of hat they are wearing.
The term white hat refers idiomatically to an
ethically good person, in this case one who has a righteous goal.
In United States films of the Western genre between the 1920s and the
1940s, white hats were often worn by heroes and black hats by villains
to symbolize the contrast in good versus evil. The 1903 short film The
Great Train Robbery was the first to apply this convention.
Although he wore a mask, The Lone Ranger was on the side of good.
He wore a white hat, so obviously he was a good guy.
White hat symbolism has gone beyond cowboy films and TV shows.
Sailor Caps: Many Navy (armed forces; not the color navy) are white
in color. United States Navy, Bolivian, Philippine, and Venezuelan
sailors wear a white canvas hat with an upright brim, often referred to
as a "Dixie cup" in reference to its similarity to the shape of a common
disposable drinking cup, or a "gob hat" or cap.
This convention gave rise to the terms black hat and white hat to
refer to malicious and ethical hackers respectively. Also, in
regard to search engine optimization and other scenerios.
In reference to white hat computer security, the term "white
hat" in Internet slang refers to an ethical computer hacker, or a
computer security expert, who specializes in penetration testing and in
other testing methodologies to ensure the security of an organization's
- One of the first instances of an ethical hack being used was a
"security evaluation" conducted by the United States Air Force, in
which the Multics operating systems was tested for "potential use as
a two-level (secret/top secret) system." The evaluation determined
that while Multics was "significantly better than other conventional
systems," it also had "... vulnerabilities in hardware security,
software security and procedural security" that could be uncovered
with "a relatively low level of effort."
By 1981 The New York Times described white hat activities as part of
a "mischievous but perversely positive 'hacker' tradition".
White hat bias (WHB) is a phrase coined by public
health researchers David Allison and Mark Cope (2010) to describe a
purported "bias leading to the distortion of information in the service
of what may be perceived to be righteous ends", which consist of both
cherry picking the evidence and publication bias. Allison and Cope
explained the motivation behind this bias in terms of "righteous zeal,
indignation toward certain aspects of industry", and other factors
You may also have interest in learn about the
black hat which is the other side of
Learn more about
hats in our apparel definitions section.
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