While hackers are often perceived as lone malcontents in hoodies furiously typing away on computers in darkened rooms, Dameff cautioned against applying the stereotype universally.
"In actuality, hackers are individuals who understand the system to such a degree that they can identify weaknesses," Dameff said, explaining that he identifies as a hacker. "When I was young, one of my friends got a computer, and he started showing me this whole new world, and when I look back now it's the foundation of why I call myself a hacker."
The hackers we have to worry about are called “black hats.” They're individuals with malicious intent who hack things for their own personal gain. “White hats,” in contrast, hack to expose security vulnerabilities so that computers and networks can be toughened, before being released susceptible to exploitation for nefarious purposes. Dameff became interested in this kind of ethical hacking.
Dr. Christian Dameff and Dr. Jeff Tully, graduates of the UA College of Medicine in Phoenix, recently hosted a summit on the threat of computer hacking aimed at hospitals and medical devices. With modern medicine relying so much on technology like insulin pumps, pacemakers and electronic medical records, an instance of malicious hacking could be lethal.