How to become a hacker

Updated: 07/13/2023 by Computer Hope
Anonymous individual using a laptop.

Although hacker has many definitions, we believe most people asking this question are interested in malicious coding. Computer Hope does not teach or condone cracking, stealing, breaking, or otherwise illegal cyber activity. However, a hacker may also be defined as someone with an advanced understanding of computers and programming. To learn more about this side of hacker, see the suggestions below.

Learn more about computers

Computer basics - Having a good understanding of a computer, its components, and how it works is essential for anyone, and not only hackers.

Books - Make it a goal to read computer books that cover your interests. Visiting popular online bookstores, such as Amazon, and browse through the top 100 books on your subject is a great place to start. Audible has an enormous selection of e-books, if you prefer that method of reading.

Know the jargon - The computer industry has thousands of acronyms and terms, visit the computer dictionary to find the ones you are most likely to run across.

Online news - Visit the Computer News pages at least a few times weekly to keep up with all the latest computer news. Visit our computer news links for a list of great news sites.

Participate in forums - The Internet is full of online forums, where thousands of users answer each other's questions and discuss what they love to do. Participating in these forums will not only allow you to test your understanding of the subject, but also learn from others. A great example of an online forum would be the Computer help forums.

Build a computer - To learn more about the hardware aspect of a computer, there is nothing more educational than putting one together. Not only will this help broaden your knowledge of computer hardware, but helps diagnose hardware problems and teach you more about how a computer works. There are plenty of websites with instructions on how to build a custom machine.

Pick up a programming language

Learning how software works by studying a programming language is an invaluable tool. It teaches you how to speak directly to the computer, solve problems programmatically, and efficiently execute those solutions. It also gives you a better understanding of how computation works. Our programming language definition lists many of the popular programming languages.

Also, learning scripting languages such as Perl and PHP (PHP: Hypertext Preprocessor) and HTML (hypertext markup language), are advantageous for anyone interested in setting up and tweaking websites.

If you need more experience with programming, creating an open-source project or helping with another open project is a helpful learning experience. Creating a website can also be another great learning experience as it shows the details behind website design and setup.

Learn alternative operating system

Many people today run some version of Microsoft Windows. Using Windows is fine for home and office use, but it's also a good idea to learn alternative operating systems such as Linux. Learning a Linux distro not only helps broaden your experience, but is a necessity when navigating Linux based servers running websites and other web services.


If you have a web server, you can access SSH (secure shell), that lets you connect to a server and learn the Linux command line.

If you are new to Linux, Ubuntu is a good distro for new users to try. It can be installed directly to your hard disk, or booted from the Live ISO for you to try it out. The Live ISO can be burned to a USB (universal serial bus) flash drive or CD (compact disc). For more information, see the official Live ISO tutorial at

If you're going to use Linux, having a good understanding of the Linux command line is also a must. See our Linux commands help index for a full listing of commands, proper syntax, and examples.

Learn more on networking

Networks run the Internet and connect home or office computers together. It is important to know as much as you can on how networks operate, including basics like an IP address, OSI (Open Systems Interconnection), port, protocol, router, and subnet mask.

Also, setting up a home network, especially a network with multiple computers and different operating systems, is helpful.

Related Questions

Will you teach me to hack?

Everything you must know is mentioned 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 individual's drive and overall knowledge of computers, networking, and programming.

Who are some famous hackers?

See our list of computer hackers for a list of some good and bad hackers.

How will I know when I am a hacker?

If you are doing or have already done all of the above, you are consider a hacker. If you are hacking for good, you are considered a white hat hacker if you are doing anything malicious you are considered a black hat hacker.

How do I know if someone else is a hacker?

Anyone who is good with computer, programming, and networking may be considered a hacker. However, trying to determine if a malicious hacker hacked into your computer is difficult because it requires an expert to detect malicious activity.