The above quote by Aleister Crowley says it better than I ever could. Never forget that the difference is solely up to you, the individual. Crowley, like countless others before him (Francis Bacon, John Dee, Benjamin Franklin, Albert Pike) is clear about the unpredictable, inescapable consequences which always accompany the reckless release of magick onto the unsuspecting and uninitiated. Information technology (and security) and magick have always been, and will always be, indistinguishable from one another in the eyes of the uninitiated. That much you must always remain clear about.
If you’ve made it this far I should hope you recognize the names I’ve listed; and not for whatever mysticism or moral ambiguity might surround them. Those men were the widely renown occultists of their eras. They were deeply trusted, if not placed chiefly in charge, by their respective empires. What these men had in common is self-discipline. It is not that Black Magic or Black-hat hacking is “evil” or subject to any other such fleeting label. But then neither is it “good,” you see? It simply “Is,” and likewise that which results from the application of either will be neither “good” nor “evil”, rather it will simply become that which now “Is.” And that which “Is” is always completely out of your control. Whatever the intention that precipitated the act, however noble or malignant, is lost immediately upon its release. It has gone from that which was solely in your moral discretion to that which rests in the discretion of the morality of whosoever chooses to employ it. What certainty do you have that their self-labeling is in accord with yours? As I heard Richard Thieme once paraphrase, “what’s all this white-hat, black-hat shit? We’re hackers damnit.”
It is that kind of clarity of self-identity which must be first and foremost in all intelligence work; which all hacking truly is (as well as magick). Do not get so lost in what it is you are trying to protect that you lose sight of why it’s important to protect it and, more importantly, what it means for that which you’re protecting to become vulnerable. If you’re unsure what that looks like imagine your fellow villagers taking up torches and pitchforks and setting out to find a devil that just so happens to look exactly like you.