Hire the Hackers

As many of you know, there’s some amazing TED talks out there. There’s just so many of them, that it’d be almost impossible for a mere mortal to sift through them all. Fear not. We’re here to help.

Have you ever wondered what fuels a hacker to invest his time, skills, resources into criminal activities? Is it for the money? Maybe. But many of these guys get so rich, so fast that they practically can’t ever spend it. Take the Anonymous group for example. They are not hacking for personal gains. They hack to demonstrate just how easy it is to break the defenses of companies that hold your data, and to promote their ideology.

Whatever the motivation is for these hackers, there’s a few characteristics they seem to all have in common, intelligence likely being on top of the list. As Misha Glenny discusses in his talk, these are some of the smartest people he’s ever met in his life, with most of them excelling in mathematics, physics, and other kinds of computational sciences. Another commonality between the hackers Misha has had the chance to speak to is their early interest in hacking. They all started hacking in their early to mid teens, at a time when their moral compass was not yet developed. Most of them also greatly lack social skills and exhibit strong signs of Asperger’s syndrome, symptoms of which can prove to be tremendous advantages when it comes to hacking.

The bottom line is, for many of these hackers, putting them in prisons for years on end is not the right solution. Most of them don’t seem to care much whether they work for a legitimate security company, let’s say doing penetration testing, or they freelance hack on the other side of the law. According to Misha, these guys said they didn’t know how to do this sort of work legally. But all of the hackers that fell foul to the law said the same thing:

“Please, please give us a chance to work in the legitimate industry. We just never knew how to get there, what we were doing. We want to work with you.”