Tuesday 29 September 2015


Like any other 12 year old I was far less interested in watching the news than I was in watching The Simpsons. Unfortunately for me, and many other children across the country, the channel in question had decided that The Simpsons could wait until after the news.

However on this occasion a topic was being discussed that immediately caught my attention.
A "notorious hacker", now released from prison, was to have his release conditions relaxed which would give him the ability to access the Internet once again. This hacker was the subject of substantial criminal proceedings, almost as substantial as the amount of support and vocal defence a small section of the American public had showered him with.
The news report abruptly moved on to the next item.

I wanted to know more. What were these crimes? Why were people defending him? How did he get into so much trouble?

Some time later I found my way to the family computer, I waited for the dial up sequence to complete and entered “hacking” into the AOL search field. AOL pushed back some sparse news stories, nothing that immediately provided me with any more information than the news report.
I wasn't satisfied.

So I asked my parents if they could buy me a book about “hacking”. Two weeks later (especially ordered from America no less) the book arrived.

Confessions of Teenage Hackers by Dan Verton. I was incredibly excited.

The Hacker Diaries
Of course, this book is not a “book about hacking”. It is a journalistic account of some fairly high profile cases (at the time) of teenagers prosecuted for computer misuse offences. But at 12 years old, I thoroughly enjoyed it. I read every page carefully, leaving no word unseen.

Although it lacked technical detail, it provided a young and inquisitive mind an insight into hacking culture and the world of computer security. I had learnt of a mindset and discipline that many were not aware of. That fact propelled me forward.

Almost 15 years later this continues to be a major preoccupation of mine. My fascination has grown and with it my desire to learn. As a result it has become my academic endeavour.