How to be a computer hacker

Ethical hackers... need to be able to think like hackers and be capable of identifying vulnerabilities in their client's computer system

Computer hacking involves seeking out and then exploiting weak points in a computer system or network. It's believed that members of the '70s counterculture in America pioneered computer hacking and that it started off as a form of protest that sought to inconvenience or embarrass corporations and governments.

Hollywood, through movies such as The Matrix, has done much to mythologise computer hackers as freakishly intelligent and idealistic rebels, but things are somewhat more complicated in the real world.

Many hackers are motivated by nothing more than a desire to steal other people's money. Others are just cyber-vandals, infecting computer networks with viruses. And trojans, purely for the destructive pleasure they take in doing so. Even when hackers do claim to be trying to achieve noble political aims, the methods they choose often alienate more people than they win over.

For example, the most publicised computer hacking event in Australia in recent times involved the hacktivist group Anonymous attacking the website of Federal Parliament and sending lewd emails to politicians to protest over plans to introduce an internet filter.

While cyber-shenanigans such as those by Anonymous are more ridiculous than dangerous, many Australians have had sensitive private information made public, been defrauded, or found their ability to run their business compromised as a result of malicious computer hackers.

Which is where the ethical hacking courses (seeĀ Advanced Diploma of Network Security) that have been recently introduced at TAFE NSW come in. In much the same way that police officers need to be able to think like criminals in order to apprehend them, ethical hackers (that is, those wanting to make a career out of protecting others from cyber-crime) need to be able to think like hackers and be capable of identifying vulnerabilities in their client's computer system.

With four out of five Australian businesses being subjected to cyber-crime, TAFE NSW has teamed up with the EC Council to offer a Certified Ethical Hacking course in order to meet the growing need for workers trained in information security.

A spokesperson for the Northern Sydney Institute has described its ethical hacking courses as, "A suite of specialised programs for those wanting employment in the rapidly evolving information security industry."

Sound like your kind of course? Visit TAFE NSW.