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Hacking the Hacker by Roger A. Grimes

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49Guide for Parents with Young Hackers

As a computer security writer for over 20 years, a few times each year I have parents email to ask how they can tell if their kid is hacking—the bad kind of hacking—and what they can do to encourage their child’s pursuit of a promising honest career. I know what they are talking about because years ago I had to have the same confrontation with my teenage son. He was starting to do some not‐so‐legal hacking and in some cases was getting into minor trouble. Luckily, my wife and I intervened early and, with a few wrinkles, successfully encouraged his exploration of whitehat hacking.

I think that many smart computer teenagers have the ability to turn to the blackhats if not appropriately guided. Often, they either aren’t doing great in school or aren’t deriving much satisfaction from their scholarly accomplishments. At school and likely at home, they are being told to do what they consider to be boring tasks without a purpose, and they feel like they are being harassed for not working toward their full potential. In the online world, they seek and get the admiration and respect of their peers. They feel powerful and mysterious at the same time. It’s like a drug. I get the attraction. Most of these kids ...

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