Actually, Mitnick's career suggests that becoming the world's greatest hacker doesn't require you to know how to use a computer at all. For instance, "social engineering" is just telling well-researched lies. In an excerpt from his book, Ghost In The Wires, Mitnick recounts the time he "compromised the Social Security Administration through an elaborate social engineering attack." Sounds complicated, right? Actually, he just found the agency directory, called up a lady who had the information he wanted, pretended to be her superior, and asked her for it. In an excerpt from the audio book, he recounts another social engineering attack which basically amounted to making a fake badge at Kinko's and sneaking in the door behind someone returning from a smoke break.
Of course, Mitnick is only one man, and there are certainly hackers out there creating viruses using code you'd need a degree in computer programming to understand. They just aren't the guys you go to when you absolutely need to get inside Nokia's database. The world's greatest hacker needs to understand how to use the tools they create to get the information you want. Or you could do it the old-fashioned way and create fake badges at Kinko's and make prank phone calls. Either way, you don't need to learn a new language, see computers everywhere you look, or even be able to type particularly fast. You just need what all good cons have always needed: guts and a good poker face.
Also, the real hacking community appears to be willing to look the other way if you don't qualify as classically handsome or have early '90s boy band hair.
He must have had sick abs.
Jack O'Brien is the co-founder and former editor in chief of Cracked.com. You can follow him on Twitter, or consume him in podcast formula. Check out some of his earlier stuff, like Graduation Special: How to Ace Your First Job Interview and 8 Important Lessons Learned from '80s Cartoons.
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