how do you become a hacker?

I sometimes get asked how one can develop the skills needed to do what I do for a living. This is a tricky thing to answer, because being a good hacker ultimately means you think “wrong”, not just that you understand tech.

When I interview people for a job, of course I’m looking to see if you have technical chops. More importantly though, I’m looking to see how you think, and how you handle unexpected things.

That “hacker mindset” quality is hard to define, tough to extract over the course of a brief interview, and impossible to teach. We can bring people up to speed in tech stuff, business stuff, project management stuff, etc., but thinking crooked, that’s not really a teachable skill; you either do it, or you don’t.

All that said, understanding tech is definitely a requirement, and fortunately there are tons of ways to gain skills in this (one fantastic resource for this is the book “The Web Application Hackers Handbook” written by PortSwigger).

There are a bunch of resources online as well, (free in most cases), so I threw together a small list of some quality sites that teach tech/hacking:


Basics of Computing



This list is obviously not exhaustive, or even complete really, but hopefully it’s useful to someone.

Another recommendation I would make to anyone looking to get into this field, is definitely get to a hacker con – specifically one like BSides. These are pretty much everywhere at this point, and are very good for learning new things and getting a feel for what hacker culture is like.

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