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learnhowtohack[1]Alright…so you decided you want to be a hacker.  Great!  But what next?  How do you actually achieve the often misrepresented, but highly respected, skill set necessary to become a hacker?  Fortunately, it is not difficult.  It takes time and determination, but practically anyone can become a hacker with proper training.

If you really want to get a jump start on learning how to become a hacker, check out Hacking School.  A combination of training and hands-on experience, this course is a quick way to earn your stripes in the hacking culture.

What Skills Are Necessary?

Hacking is an art that requires numerous skills working harmoniously to reach a goal.  Your goal could be a powerful programming platform, a user-friendly web application, or the next great computer game.

Hacking can be broken down into three basic skill sets – all equally important.  Each skill is a combination of “necessary” knowledge and your own preferences (which are usually dictated by your hacking goals).

Learn to Program

Programming is the cornerstone of your hacking repertoire.  When you are first starting out, it may seem overwhelming.  After all, there are hundreds of modern programming languages to choose from.  Each language offers a distinct set of advantages for your programming needs.  How can you choose the best one(s)?

Your choice is based partially on personal preference.  The rest is based on what is commonly used in most of the world.  As you become more experienced, you quickly begin to realize that most programming languages share quite a few similarities.  In other words, once you learn one language, picking up others is much easier.

Programming for Non-Programmers  is an excellent introduction to programming for beginners.   It focuses on the logic behind programming; a skill you can apply to any programming language you learn in the future.

Probably the best programming language to learn for beginners is Python.  It has a clean design and is relatively forgiving when you are learning.  Even though Python is easier than other languages to learn, it is very powerful and perfectly suited for projects large and small.  Python for Beginners is an excellent introduction to the world of Python programming.

Java is another good language to learn although it has fallen in popularity in recent years due to security risks.  There are millions of Java based programs in existence, however, making it a good language to know.  Java Fundamentals gives you a running start in Java and is an excellent path toward mastery of Java basics.

C (and subsets such as C++ and Objective-C) can be more difficult to master but is an essential skill for any aspiring hacker.  Most operating systems are written primarily in C because of its powerful memory management features.  Applications for the popular iOS (Apple iPhone and iPad) are written using Objective-C.  Mobile applications are relatively new to the technology scene but will become more important to you as a hacker in coming years.  Learn Objective-C for iPhone-iPad App Programming teaches the basic techniques necessary to become a mobile application hacker.

Part of becoming a successful hacker is staying up-to-date with the latest trends and programming techniques.  This may require learning new programming languages in the future to retain your status as a well-rounded hacker.


Even though most home computers currently run on the Microsoft Windows operating system, the operating system of the Internet is UNIX.  There are many variations of the basic UNIX infrastructure with the most popular being Linux.

Originally created by Linus Torvalds, Linux offers the power and security of a UNIX OS with a user interface that is much easier to use.  When you are first starting out, Ubuntu is a great Linux option.  It is easy to install and use with little to no experience.  Ubuntu can even be installed side-by-side with Windows on your computer; allowing you to choose which OS you want to boot every time you turn on the machine (known as a dual-boot configuration).

Start with the basics such as navigating the menus, changing settings, etc.  Once you are comfortable with basic operation, look under the hood at the Linux OS.  Ubuntu is open-source so you are free to view and even modify the code as you like.  Even simple changes to the OS can teach you a lot about working with UNIX/LINUX machines. Take this Introduction to Linux course to get started learning about Linux.

Once you become adept at Linux basics, start learning advanced techniques.  BASH scripting helps with numerous administrative tasks and offers automation to many redundant tasks.  You can learn more about BASH scripting by enrolling in Introduction to BASH Scripting.

Master Web Development

Hackers spend most of their time connected to the Internet. Whether to communicate with other hackers or to perform penetration testing for a client, you will be connected to the Web constantly.  Understanding how the Internet works and how connected machines communicate with one another is a basic hacking skill you should master as quickly as possible.

Most modern websites are built using a combination of HTML5 and various scripting languages such as Perl.  You need a solid HTML foundation to understand how computers display information and transfer files between clients and servers.  The HTML5 Beginners Crash Course teaches you about the many factors that go into a modern website.

As you develop new skills as a hacker, keep in mind that the media has often described computer criminals as hackers.  A true hacker is someone who is an enthusiastic and skillful computer programmer.

Those who choose to use their knowledge for crime are known as crackers.  These people are frowned upon by real hackers and give a bad name to computer science.  There are plenty of examples of individuals who refused to comply to the mold of society while becoming very successful.  Use your hacking skills to become a benefactor of society and of course, enjoy learning just how far you can take your knowledge.

Page Last Updated: September 2013

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