Hacking the hackers

Being a professional hacker is up there as a job. No question about it. You get paid a good whack to break into company’s computer networks, find any weak links in their systems and then tell them how to make it better. That way sensitive or valuable information can’t fall into the wrong hands. It doesn’t get any better than that, does it? But the best part about the job surely has to come from doing something that the average person would end up behind bars for. Like the recent UK hacker who ram-raided 97 US military and Nasa computers from his home. A life inside is his reward.

Security Analysts or Security Consultants (the official titles of pro hackers) are also drafted in to protect the likes of me and you from computer viruses and to prevent our bank accounts from being wiped clean out.

But sometimes even professional hackers are given the runaround by malicious hackers. In 2000, an email virus with the title ILOVEYOU broke. Naturally people thought it was harmless, but that was until the hoax showed its true colours by replacing files on people’s computers and then firing them out to everyone in their address books. Luckily the software engineer Narinnat Suksawat muscled in and repaired the damage.

Other recent tales of hackers? Too many to mention. But one that can’t go without a mention was when hackers gained access to the American TV station ABC. Their calling card was to replace the ABC logo with their own material. Now that takes some skill.

If you like the sound of helping businesses defend themselves against crackers you could be working as:

  • web designer creating websites which are less vulnerable to attack from publicity seeking crackers
  • network manager keeping software up to date to defend against the latest viruses
  • An IT security coordinator protecting their business’s computer from a malicious attack, and making sure the software has no weaknesses that a cracker can use to gain access to the computer
  • security officer crackers sometimes find it easier to actually enter an office and use a computer inside the organisation than try to hack into the computer from outside
  • database administrator in companies with large amount of information it is necessary to make sure the information is backed up, protecting it from hackers who may wish to delete rather than steal the information
  • software developer creating new software for the public to protect their computers from the latest viruses
  • technical support person helping people install and use protection software
  • technical author writing clear information and instructions on how to use software to protect a computer
  • public relations officer coping with the public’s perception of your company if it comes under attack from crackers

Get the full lowdown on viruses and hackers here:
http://computer.howstuffworks.com/virus.htm
and also here:
http://computer.howstuffworks.com/hacker.htm

You may also like to have a look at the BigAmbition website for more information on IT and Digital Careers.

Or you could sign up to a free online course in cyber security – approved by the government – to give you a taste of what studying computer science or technology would be like! Find out more on the government website.