Once a hacker, always a hacker. How I got my start in Cybersecurity

In the beginning

Hacking is something that got into my blood. I first started hacking 18 years ago when in college, taking down chatrooms and websites. Despite taking a hiatus over the years, I ended up going back. Once a hacker, always a hacker. Back then, I was what is commonly referred to as a script kiddie. At first I was merely kicking people out chat rooms and taking over servers for fun. However, I started learning reverse engineering and taught myself how to write scripts and code. While learning how to write my own scripts, I spent my time trolling Yahoo and MSN chatrooms. I also began pirating software, movies and music in my spare time.

Initially, I was simply hanging out with the internet crowd.  However, I quickly realized the internet was full of trolls, cyberbullies and cyberstalkers. I decided it was time to turn the tables after months of harassment. While in college, I also learned how to use social engineering. However, in the beginning I never attacked anyone first. It was more of a weapon for retaliation against people who attacked me first. That soon changed after about 2 years.

Starting my career.. or at least trying to.

I eventually earned a degree in E-Commerce Web Programming and design. I tried my hand at freelance, performing odd jobs here and there. Unfortunately, the money was not very good. It was more supplemental than anything, and barely enough to live off. So I started selling marijuana on the side. I continued dealing off and on over the next decade for about 6 years. Quickly realizing how saturated the web design industry was, I tried graphic designer instead. Unfortunately, that industry also saturated with very few openings. After working dead end jobs I hated, I became a government contract employee.

I was assigned to work at the Federal Aviation Administration in Oklahoma City. My official job title was Level 1 Programmer. I quickly learned however, that programming was the last thing I would be doing. My first week I spent studying a document called the NIST Special Publication. NIST is the National Institute of Standards and Technology. It is a government organization responsible for security and technology standards in Government. My first assignment was to report and familiarize myself with Special Publication 800-171. This document outlines how to protect Sensitive Unclassified Information (SUI).

The position required a government security clearance, and my job was to assist the federal employees. Basically, my boss was the white hat hacker and I was his assistant. This was my first taste of Information and Cyber Security, and I loved it. I was hooked. Unfortunately the job was only temporary and I did not learn enough while I was there, so I went back to graphic design.

Stepping backwards

I spent more than 12 years as a graphic designer. My projects have included everything from Flash animation to web pages and graphics.  I even spent 5 years designing printed materials as well as large scale architectural signage and way-finding systems. My last hack was more than 8 years ago. I had taken over several social media accounts from someone that I did not get along with. The individual and I were not friends, and he had pissed me off so I broke into his pages and deleted them. It took me 4 hours to hack into his accounts using social engineering techniques called Open Source Intelligence and pretexting. I stopped hacking and pirating around 2013.

Once a hacker, always a hacker

My passion for cybersecurity was reignited shortly after exposure from the T-Mobile and Equifax data breaches. I began relearning what I had forgotten over the years and have since decided I want to make a career out of it. If I cannot trust others to protect my data and information, then I would take it upon myself to do it. Now I am studying up on new tactics and technology. My plan is to go back to college for a degree in Cybersecurity. I now operate this blog and my twitter page devoted solely to Information Security. Having been a hacker for more than a decade, I have experience in OSINT, Pretexting, Social Engineering and physical cyberattacks.

I’m also a contributing author and writer for United States Cybersecurity Magazine. I write about everything from social engineering tactics to preventing cyber attacks. I also maintain this blog where I write about hacking, mental health and cybersecurity.

 

Find me on twitter here: @IamThePatRatt

Hack the Stigma. Hack the Planet.
IamThePatRatt –  The Bipolar Hacker.

 

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