When you think of a hacker, what characteristics come to mind? Chances are your thoughts instantly go to a young, white, glasses-wearing introvert feverishly typing away at a basement computer. Not true. At least not in all cases.

Professional cyber security consultant Charles Tendell is the perfect example. Tendell, CEO at Azorian Cyber Security, recently gained national attention when the New York Times featured him after he stepped forward as the founder of popular “hackers-for-hire site” Hacker’s List. Until the article published, Tendell’s identity had not been released, adding to the mystique of the site.

“I’m getting mixed responses,” says Tendell to MadameNoire. “Those that are actually taking the time to understand what I’m trying to do love the concept and signup to help. Hacker’s List was created to help consumers understand that you’re not alone to fend for yourself on the digital battlefield.”

Hacker’s List, which launched in November and now boasts over 2,000 hits daily, gained traction among the hacker crowd, allowing users to search for hackers and hire them anonymously “Projects,” as they’re listed on the website range from breaking into a Gmail account to retrieving password information.

“Hiring a hacker shouldn’t be a difficult process, we believe that finding a trustworthy professional hacker for hire should be a worry free and painless experience,” reads the website. “At Hacker’s List we want to provide you with the best opportunity to find your ideal hacker and for professional hackers around the world to find you.”

While the site’s rules of operations confirm that illegal activity isn’t tolerated, critics aren’t buying it, noting that not much can be done to stop those looking to hire someone to perform unlawful hacks. However, what’s being overlooked in many of the conversations and debates surrounding hacking are the benefits.

“Without true hackers you would have no innovation,” says Tendell. “When technology is designed to suit only one task it’s entirely too limited. The Internet was originally created to serve as a communication network for the military; without hackers/creative innovators there would be no Facebook, Apple or many of the other things that people enjoy.”

There are hackers that are using their skills to find solutions and hack for good. “The handful of bad things you hear about are exceptions to the hacker mindset,” says the 32-year-old chief exec. “A true hacker is out for the thrill of discovery and making positive change.”

While Tendell has had to deal with the Hacker’s List backlash, he’s also faced the diversity in tech issues head on as an African-American male within the space. “The tech industry is not diverse at all. I spend a great deal of time at technology conferences all over the world and, frequently, I am either the only Black man in the room, or one of only a handful.”

The techie believes the tech talent issue stems from a lack of access and encouragement within our community to pursue careers in tech. However, he hopes his story and the story of others within the space will encourage the next generation to get involved in the industry.

Tendell is focused on next steps for his platform, getting it back on a positive track and focusing his efforts on ethical hacking. His goal is simple: “To make the world a better place.”

One hack at a time.