How to Become a Hacker
by Ryan Fontaine | July 11, 2013
Fueled only by misguided hate and an endless supply of neon energy drinks, it seems that hackers can empty our bank accounts and swipe our corporate secrets with only a few simple keystrokes.
Well, that's what we're led to believe anyway.
Hackers tend to get a bad rap thanks to the media. By definition, a hacker can simply be a talented computer programmer. But as PC Magazine points out, in the '90s, the word somehow became synonymous with the term "cracker," someone who illegally cracks into a computer network to perform a malicious act.
If all hackers aren't the code-slinging criminal masterminds they're made out to be, is hacking a skill someone can turn into a legitimate career? The world's biggest social media network seems to think so. In a 2012 letter to potential investors, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg described the culture of the company as "The Hacker Way," writing:
"The word 'hacker' has an unfairly negative connotation from being portrayed in the media as people who break into computers. In reality, hacking just means building something quickly or testing the boundaries of what can be done. Like most things, it can be used for good or bad, but the vast majority of hackers I’ve met tend to be idealistic people who want to have a positive impact on the world.
"The Hacker Way is an approach to building that involves continuous improvement and iteration. Hackers believe that something can always be better, and that nothing is ever complete. They just have to go fix it — often in the face of people who say it’s impossible or are content with the status quo."
It is possible to be a professional hacker, and a respectable one at that. But how exactly does someone get started? Is there a college degree in computer hacking? What kind of money can a hacker make? These are all great questions -- ones we answer in our infographic below. Check it out and see if a hacker's life is the one for you.
For a complete list of sources, please view the infographic.