Hackers are a secretive bunch and elusive to get a lot of data about their characteristics and behaviors. Nonetheless, they do have a perception in the publics’ eye of a rogue bunch, often criminal, and certainly young. This stereotype may not always be true but it is the case that many hackers are active for a finite number of years before moving on to other things. What does a hacker do when they retire from the task?
Nothing (It Wasn’t Their Job)
It is wrong to assume most hackers make a financial gain from their activities, although many do. Some are criminals, others work for governments and large organizations. But others do it as a passion or hobby, they hack in their spare time for the challenge, or sometimes for a political cause. But for these hackers, once they have had enough, they disappear as if they’d never been there, as there is rarely a hacker who uses their own name.
Who better to work for cybersecurity companies than those who were responsible for some of their past breaches? Online security hires ex-hackers regularly. In fact, many aspiring programmers use hacking as a strategy to get notices and be head-hunted.
Online security and internet safety are common topics on radio and TV shows across the globe, and guest experts can make a decent income with the appearance fees on offer. Ex hackers are a popular choice for program makers as they often give an edgy slant to the discussion. Take this article featuring the ‘ethical hacker‘ as an example.
IT & Programming
All IT systems require workers and programmers who understand where the weaknesses are in a system. A career as a hacker is built upon looking for and exploiting, weak points so to ‘reverse engineering,’ this process should be relatively simple for someone with this skill set. Look at these famous examples of poacher turned gamekeepers in the hacking world.
Start a Business.
When you have a high level of skill in any industry, why work for someone else, it is often more profitable to do it for yourself. There are numerous business opportunities I’ve seen ex-hackers take up, from security to building PCs. It could be a fantastic selling point to give such expert IT advice and practical help with this set of skills.
Go to Prison.
We did mention earlier that not all hacking is done by criminals with malicious intent. But it would be naïve of us to shy away from the fact that much of the hacking activity is illegal. The authorities are notoriously known for ruthlessly prosecuting those accused of hacking, especially where government systems have been breached. Legal defense strategies hinged on age or mental health issues have famously fallen on deaf ears, we have seen numerous instances of young autistic kids who have breached complex systems being shown no mercy and handed out hard prison sentences. The message is clear, with no exceptions, even if the intent was not malicious.