Isn’t computer hacking a criminal activity? I don’t recall seeing the results for the latest chop shop contest; safe cracking; most efficient meth lab contest; etc. Just saying.
Hacking in and of itself isn’t illegal, it’s hacking into computers that you don’t have permission to access and are not yours is the illegal part.
Walking on your own property isn’t trespassing, walking on some one’s property without permission is.
“Computer hacking” is criminal only when you attack other people’s systems with the exploit.
Developing an exploit on your own systems is not a criminal activity, and if it were, then a whole lot of software developers would end up being shuffled off to jail, because the sort of testing these people engage in is routinely used by software developers who want to make a robust product.
Those software developers wishing to make a robust product, unfortunately, don’t work for major software or hardware vendors, because middle management can’t see the profit margin in closing vulnerabilities unless the vulnerability has been exploited “in the wild.”
If someone comes to you and says: "Here, see if you can hack my system". Then you're okay. It's only hacking systems you're not authorized to hack. To play the role of a "White Hat", you need to see what the black hats do, so you guard against it. The White hat will also play the role of a black hat to test his systems safeguards.