Hackers Wanted

TL;DR: Watch my TEDx Talk, “Hackers Wanted”

I’m a hacker. Yeah, that’s right. I admit it. I’m a hacker. I’m also a nerd, a geek and a techie too. I have been all my life. Who’s with me? Are there other hackers out there? Are you willing to admit you’re one?

Hackers make the lay-person nervous, mainly because they don’t know who we really are. There’s a negative connotation about hackers and hacking. It’s time we reframe that viewpoint, because


I’ll start by explaining what and who hackers are; focusing on the good kind. A hacker is someone who’s innately curious, solving problems in unique ways. According to the Hacker Dictionary, written in the 90’s, a hacker is, “One who enjoys the intellectual challenge of creatively overcoming or circumventing limitations.” 

How many TED talks have you seen where someone does exactly that?

Mythbusters from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:MythBusters_title_screen.jpg

MacGyver is a quintessential example of a hacker. When he opens a suitcase with a paperclip, that’s hacking. Mythbusters Adam Savage & Jamie Hyneman are others. It’s about having hacker traits like tenacity, creativity, critical thinking and figuring out solutions no matter how many roadblocks you encounter. Shouldn’t we be teaching this in our schools? We need to because the world needs more people with hacker traits.

Anyone can be a hacker.

It isn’t about a particular gender, age, race, social status, what you wear – hoodie vs suit, or even the technologies you use to hack. There are many hackers in our midst who just don’t know it. Heck, most of the people on the Internet use the world’s #1 hacker tool and don’t even realize it.

Do you know what it is? Google. Yeah, Google is the internet’s vacuum cleaner sucking up info from all over. We all use it for research, exploration and reconnaissance, including and maybe especially hackers. Congratulations my readers, you are all hackers.

Now I get it. There are also bad hackers out there: The Black hats. The ones who are trying to get into our stuff. We need to stop them. Another day, another data breach, right? Billions of records lost costing tens of billions of dollars. Credit cards, City & School’s finances, People’s personal info, and heck even elections all compromised.

What do we do to turn the tide of the cyberwar we are all in?

Yes, we are in a cyber war. The battlefield is all around us and like it or not, we’re all involved. Who here has been hacked, had their identity stolen or know someone who has? Ouch, huh? It affects us all. You can’t hide from cyber-crime. Complacency is the enemy of security.

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We need to be building our cyber workforce where everyone is prepped for battle. This means developing warriors trained in hand-to-hand cyber combat; learning the tech skills of the online battlefield. We need to train everyone in protecting themselves from being a casualty. 

How do we do this, though? How do we build our cyber workforce?

The solution is contained in the problem: Understanding hackers, their mindset, how they work and what they do. It takes a hacker (the good kind) to stop a hacker (the bad kind).

To solve today’s cyber problems, we need to build the next generation of hackers; young and old.

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