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Too young to start hacking? Absolutely not!

One of our major flaws as human beings is that we spend far too much time and energy wondering whether it is the right time to do something. Nowhere is this truer than in our careers where the consequences of a wrong decision can send us down a path we didn’t want to travel.

 

This fear of making the wrong decision is what keeps people in careers that they have long since lost passion for. Sometimes we struggle to take a risk on ourselves, even though we’d encourage our friends and family to do so. But what about people too young to have a career, what advice should we be giving to those people? Can you be too young to start a career? After all, you’re never too young to have a passion.

 

Ritik Sahni is one of those young people who has found his passion. Ritik is a 14-year-old boy from Chandigarh, India.

“ I love computers since my age was 10, at the age of 11 I got my first laptop “

He’s still in school, but he’s been bug bounty hunting for the last four months. Ritik has taken hold of his passion and decided he wants a career in ethical hacking, so he’s set about to make it happen.

Schools tend to be limited on their ethical hacking syllabus, or more likely there isn’t one at all, but that hasn’t stopped Ritik.

“ I was really interested in knowing Hacking properly and then I got to know that there is also something as “Ethical Hacking” and I got to know that it’s done for good purposes and at that moment my mind said “Yes, this is going to be my work!” “

He has taken to self-study, taking part in online courses to teach himself the skills required to be a white hat hacker. We can all learn something from him  here. It’s never too early to follow your passion and start your career, sometimes the right time, is now.

 

So if you are thinking about becoming an ethical hacker, where do you start?

There isn’t one answer to this question but rather several building blocks that you can put together to reach ethical hacker status. Ethical hacking is still a relatively new field and as such, there isn’t a clearly defined career pathway.

 

You can either see that as a positive or a negative, but there are some undeniable benefits to this being the case. For example, the industry is much more flexible about your qualifications and experience.

 

Ethical hackers are in high demand and more and more companies are looking to add these hackers to their workforce. This means some passion, self-teaching, and a little experience can go a long way.

Learn, Hack, and Learn Some More

If you want to be an ethical hacker, you need to have a strong understanding of computers and programming. Programming is the most basic skill you will need to be an ethical hacker, so if you don’t know any programming languages, you need to get learning.

 

Luckily, there are tons of online resources out there in the form of courses, YouTube videos, and forums to help you get started. Python is a great programming language to start with because it’s suitable for beginners, flexible, powerful, and has a ton of resources out there for it.

 

However, to be a hacker you’ll need to know more than one language, so having knowledge of JavaJavaScript, and PHP is good as well. Once you have a better understanding of how programs work, you can start to understand how to exploit them. An important part of learning to be a hacker is to practice the skills you are learning.

 

This doesn’t mean hacking your neighbor’s WiFi, but using your own devices or virtual environments and learning to break and fix them. You can also choose to do the Certified Ethical Hacker qualification. While this qualification isn’t required for all ethical hacking or penetration testing jobs, it can make your resume stand out and get your foot in the door.

 

As well as taking courses in programming, cybersecurity, networking, hacking, and other IT subjects, you can also have some fun by playing hacking games. Playing hacking games such as Uplink, Hacknet, and Pony Island, can teach you the hacking skills you need; problem-solving, logical reasoning, and working memory.

 

As with most things in life, the best approach is a well rounded one. Whether you plan to become an ethical hacker working for a company or be a bug bounty hunter working for yourself, the more varied your skill set is, the better.

 

A previous version of this article first appeared on MyHackerTech.com.

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