It pays to be on the right side of cyber security.

screenshot of BRAIN virus in action

This is what BRAIN looks like, on an MS-DOS machine.

We linked to a mini-documentary about the first computer virus a while back, called BRAIN. It’s a pretty benevolent virus made by two Pakistani guys, way back in 1986.


Not all viruses are that benevolent, though. And the people who make them aren’t as friendly as the kind-hearted guys who made BRAIN, who gave their contact info in the virus itself so people could contact them if infected.

Today, a few notable groups on the internet have been responsible for a lot of big-time hacking and causing a lot of trouble. A lot of those people got arrested, recently, and rightfully so. They were doing something called DDoS, which is basically attempting to shut a website down by flooding it with more users than the servers can handle. Some of them may also have been responsible for hacking the Playstation Network a while back.

Engineering, including software engineering (and one could argue that hackers ‘engineer’ their way past security), is about helping people and making the world better. Increase the awesome. Decrease the suck. These cybercrimes are neither of those.

Some people claim it’s about the thrill of solving puzzles. But that’s not true. If it were, these people would stick to sites like notpron (“the hardest riddle available on the internet”), which do require coding knowledge to solve, and instead use their coding powers to do things like programming quadrotors or finding a new use for their Kinect.

Here’s a pretty good video about the history of viruses, a quick rundown an what the big ones do, and a few examples of viruses. You can see that they used to be lighthearted, for the most part. Not so much nowadays.

He talks about being prepared, and protecting against cyber criminals.

Ask your CS teacher what he or she thinks about hacking. They’ll probably tell you something like “don’t.”

Seriously. If security is something that intrigues you, better to work on the side of good by using the same skills to find flaws in the system you’re supposed to protect. That’s called Information Systems Security (just read up on the certification subject matter; look interesting?).

If you’re looking to get certified, look into the Security+ certification. It’s only 100 questions with few other requirements. If you do well they’ll probably waive the recommended 2 years experience. Stuff like this looks good on a resume.

And there’s really good money in ISS. Which is a bit better than jailtime, isn’t it?

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About Nick G

Nick has been a blogger since 2007 and is an English and Japanese major, though his roots are in engineering and the sciences. He tutors high school students in Math and English, and plans on becoming a Teacher. In his spare time Nick plays FPS, RTS and RPG computer games, Dungeons and Dragons (the tabletop version) and arcade dance games like DDR. He also likes reading sci-fi and fantasy novels, writing poetry and running. Nick plays drums for the band Tens and Twenties.
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