In the twenty-first century many professions have become virtual. Programmers, designers, Web analysts and community managers are just some of the new professions created by the Internet.
However, there is one that without it this new Internet ecosystem could not survive, although sometimes you might not think so: The hacker who works to detect security flaws and fixes them. They are the guardians of the Internet and for that reason they are well paid for their work.
What do you have to do to become a good hacker? American Eric S. Raymond, who describes himself as “an open source evangelist” and maintains the Jargon File, a dictionary of hacker culture terms, includes a detailed document on his website that offers some practical tips on how to become a good computer security expert, in response to the barrage of questions he has received about the topic in recent years.
If you think that this could be your ideal job, we summarize some of the tips of this open source guru.
5 Tips for becoming a hacker
- Hackers build, not destroy (although many people are not clear on that). If you want to be a hacker, the first thing is to be motivated. Raymond says that it is a fun profession but it takes a lot of effort and learning capacity. Intelligence, practice, dedication, and hard work are just some of the requirements. You have to approach this work as intense play rather than drudgery. This security expert upholds that no problem should ever have to be solved twice; you must always tackle new challenges.
- Learn how to program. Developers have to be multilingual and learn all of the latest programming languages. Hackers have to do the same. One of the languages that Raymond recommends learning (and that many companies are currently demanding) is Python. An open source programming language that its creator, Guido van Rossum, started working on in the late 1980s. Java, C++, Ruby and Django are other languages that you should get to know. Raymond has left some instructions on his website, but he warns that they are not easy.
- Knowledge of Unix. You have to get past Windows and learn to manage operating systems like Unix or Linux (based on the former). Both are essential in the Internet era and any programmer worth their salt must know them.
- Learn how to use the World Wide Web and write HTML. It is vital to know by heart all of the secrets of HTML code. HTML tags, enclosed in ‘greater than’ and ‘less than’ symbols are the vocabulary of the Internet and of programmers. Version five of the standard, HTML 5, published definitively last year, is the latest.
- Earn status in the hacker culture. It is essential to speak English in order to take part in the hacker community; a language that is very specific for the most technical terminology. Then, do not simply copy the knowledge of others, take part in the community; write open-source software, help test and debug it, share your knowledge with others or do something for the hacker culture are just a few of his tips.
“Hackers (and creative people in general) should never be bored or have to drudge at stupid repetitive work, because when this happens it means they aren’t doing what only they can do — solve new problems,” says Raymond.
A hacker must have many skills but this computer security expert shows us that, with all of the opportunities offered by the Internet to learn how it works and the motivation to do something different every day, you can become a good hacker.
Raymond adds that reading science fiction, studying the Zen philosophy, doing martial arts and developing your appreciation of wordplay could be complementary activities. We will leave that for you to choose.
If you have been bitten by the bug, just visit his website, which some kind souls have translated into various languages.