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Hack my network--please!

Hackers have successfully broken into several companies, including Target and Sony. Now some hackers are helping them.
Hackers for hire helping companies 01:47

Hackers have broken into some of America's largest corporations but now businesses are starting to use them to their advantage.

Companies are hiring hackers to test their systems for security flaws, CBS News' Lauren Lyster reports.

She met with Mike Santillana, 27, a security researcher who makes money hacking into systems of major companies, such as Google.

In fact, Google is one of a number of firms that asks hackers like Santillana -- who are often referred to as ethical or white hat hackers -- to try to find security flaws.

"We're curious, we want to test our skills, we want to help these companies," said Santillana. "I've found several bugs where you can completely compromise another user's account."

He works for a firm called Bugcrowd that connects companies, including Pinterest and Western Union, with hackers like himself. He said that the work is as much about the fun -- the challenge of solving a problem -- as it is about the money. Businesses pay cash rewards, ranging from hundreds to thousands of dollars, to the first person to find a particular bug. They're called bug bounties.

Mobile payments company Square has a bug bounty program.

"So we do everything we can to secure our products and services but occasionally things fall through the cracks," Square's information security technical lead Dino Dai Zovi told CBS News. He said that Square would rather have good hackers help find these problems before malicious attackers do.

"So we aren't just focusing all our efforts on locking the front door when there's a wide open window we don't know about."

Dai Zovi acknowledged it's a bit scary to invite strangers to hack you. But he said it has helped and, so far, they haven't been burned.

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