How do I become a hacker?
Because of the frequency this question has been asked in e-mail, on the forums, and searched for on Computer Hope, we have decided to create a document for this question. Although a hacker can be described as many different things, we believe most users want to learn the malicious side of hacking. Computer Hope will not assist users in learning how to crack, steal, break, or otherwise hack into something illegally. However, the term hacker can also define someone who has an advanced understanding of computers and programming. For users who are wanting to learn more about this side of the term hacker, we suggest following the steps below.
Learn more about computers
Computer basics - Having a good understanding of a computer, the components that make up a computer, and how it all works is an essential
Books - Make it a goal to read computer books that cover your interest or visit popular online bookstores such as Amazon, and browse through the top 100 books to get an understanding of what others are reading.
Know the jargon - The computer industry has millions of acronyms and terms, visit the Computer Hope dictionary to find the ones you're most likely to run across.
Online news - Visit online Computer News pages at least a few times weekly to keep up with all the latest computer news. Visit our news section, which contains a link to our news site, as well as dozens of other great examples.
Participate in forums - The Internet is full of online forums, where hundreds and thousands of other users participate with each other in answering questions or talking about what they love to do. Participating on one or more of these forums will not only allow you to test your understanding of a subject, but also learn from others. A great example of an online computer help forum is the Computer help forums.
Build a computer - If you want to learn more about the hardware aspects of a computer, there is nothing more educational than putting together your own computer. Not only will this help broaden your knowledge of computer hardware, but can help with diagnosing hardware problems, and teach you more about how computers work.
Pick up a programming language
If you're interested in software or how software works, learning a programming language can be an invaluable tool in getting this understanding. Learning a language helps teach you how to create your own programs, can help with debugging, give you a better understanding of why a program may not work, and can help with getting a program or script to do what you want it to do. A listing of many of the more popular programming languages can be found on our programming languages definition page.
In addition to learning more about how to program, learning scripting languages such as Perl and PHP and even the basics of HTML web design, are a necessity for anyone who's wanting to know about setting up and tweaking websites.
If you need more experience with programming, creating your own open source project or helping with someone else's can be an invaluable learning experience. Creating your own website can also be another great learning experience in the details behind website design and setup. Especially if you setup your own web server to host the page.
Learn alternative operating system
Many users today are running an end-user version of Microsoft Windows. While this is fine for home or office use, it's a good idea to learn alternative operating systems such as one of the dozens of different Linux or Unix variants. Learning a Linux system not only helps broaden your experience with computers, but is a necessity when wanting to navigate many of the Linux based servers running many websites and other web services.
For users completely new to Linux a good first start is Ubuntu. This distro of Linux can also be run by booting off a CD. Although this is extremely easy, and a good way to play with Linux, if you're wanting a full experience, it would be better to install Ubuntu on the computer.
Learn more on networking
Networks are what run the Internet, and what connect home or office computers together. Knowing as much as you can about how a network operates, including basics such as what an IP address, port, protocol, and the thousands of other networking definitions, can be yet another vital thing to learn about.
In addition to reading about networking, setting up your own home network, especially a network with multiple computers with different operating systems, can be a fantastic learning experience.
Will you teach me to hack?
Everything you need to know to get started is found above.
How old do you have to be to hack?
There is no age requirement for someone to become a hacker. It often comes down to that individuals overall knowledge of computers, networking, and programming.
How will I know when I'm a hacker or someone else is a hacker?
If you're doing or have already done all of the above it would be safe to consider yourself a hacker.