Confessions of a Hacker

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In the last couple years, we have seen an increase of cyber attacks against large corporations. Technology is becoming increasingly vital to all institutions and industries in all sectors and markets. With a growing dependency on technology, hackers are becoming more prominent and have a much greater impact. In order to combat and defend against cyber attacks, individuals and businesses need to learn more about cyber security and practical strategies to secure their interests.

Hopefully, you have landed here because you have grown aware that you need more knowledge and insight and you have decided to be more intentional about securing your own applications. Whatever your case may be, you are taking a step in the right direction just by caring about security and trying to educate yourself further.

First, a short confession

Before you even read any further, let’s make this a bit more personal. Allow me to do something that no hacker ever does: reveal to you my identity. In the hacker world, we call this “doxing” which generally comes with some very negative connotations. Identity is one of the most precious and valuable pieces of information one can own. Possessing intimate details about an individual is the first step towards accessing their finances, history, secrets, and possessions. Without further ado: my name is Clay Mcilrath, and I am a hacker. There, I said it. Phew. I’m a little scared of what the world can do with that bit of information alone, but ultimately have to trust that my measures of securing myself will go a long way towards keeping my information safe. These days, I like to call myself a “security expert” as this is the more politically correct way of saying, “I am a hacker.” As a mostly white hat hacker—ahem, I mean security expert—it is my personal goal to help others recover or prevent data breaches. I often do so by educating others so that they too, may think as I do. I truly hope this book helps enlighten you to the frightening world of cyber security, and that you end up on the other side caring more deeply, and working more diligently for digital security.

About the book

This book is already in a finished state, but as tensions increase across the world in the form of cyber wars, and more breaches are made public almost on a daily basis; we plan on updating and revising the book continually each month. The book starts out with a personal confession by it's author, Clay McIlrath, and gives a first-hand account of what hackers look like. It then delves into the history of hacking, some key concepts and terms related to cyber security, and then a majority of the book shows real-world problems and solutions. By reading this book, you will be better equipped at securing applications and infrastructure, regardless of your profession. This book is for everyone, seriously. Employees, founders, CEO's, CIO's and everyone in between. Security should matter to everyone because it is relevant to everyone.. even your aunt or grandma who thinks her facebook profile has been "hacked" by anonymous every time she clicks on a phishing link.

The best place to start in better understanding security is to break the various impressions or preconceived notions that you may have acquired from the media about hacking. When you think of a hacker, what immediately comes to mind? Do you picture a character working on half a dozen monitors, typing rapidly and eventually arriving at some sort of “access granted” screen? Hollywood likes to portray hackers in a very specific light to make for better stories. In reality a hacker is no more than a tinkerer of technology. Many programmers from mobile developers, hardware makers, and enterprise application developers are also hackers.

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