Hacking Life

21 Oct 2021

A couple of years ago, after more than 5 years of full-time programming, I started to develop a particular interest in hacking.

Of course, I already had some knowledge about software security (because no one should write software without that, right?) - but it was definitely not enough to perform things like penetration testing, recon, enumeration, exploitation, and all sort of hacking-related things.

As many "wannabe hackers" do, I started taking courses, watching YouTube videos, reading papers, and while I have to say I did understand the concepts, all of this wasn't translating into a real skills improvement.

I did not feel I was writing better and more secure code, and I was absolutely unable to find vulnerabilities in other people's code, breaking into servers or hacking web applications. In a nutshell, I wasn't able to hack.

I was losing motivation when at some point I came across this simple and life-changing concept: "Hacking is not about knowledge, is about mindset". Yes, knowledge is important, but not as important as lateral thinking.

Knowing concepts like XSS, CSRF, SQLi, and all sorts of fascinating acronyms, trying to exploit them using someone else methodology, will only lead to the same results everyone would achieve... and that's not hacking. Being able to view a machine, a program, or just a feature from a different perspective and re-order/re-use the pieces to achieve a different, undesired, and potentially armful outcome, that what it's all about.

It's not a technical process, it's a creative one.

It's not about knowing things, it's about knowing how to learn.

Hacking Life

Now, let's put apart the geeky stuff for a while, and try to elaborate this concept to see how powerful it is. We have a built-in capacity to achieve extraordinary results using our brainpower. So, what if we could "hack life"?

Indeed, we can! And many people are already doing it successfully... but how?!

When everyone is looking for a job emailing PDF CVs to companies, try to send yours using traditional mail, even better if printed on a cereal box!

On your birthday, buy a gift for everyone you'd expect a gift from. Can we call it reverse-gifting?

Everyone trying to get popular on social media? Turn it off for 3 months, and focus on your inner side and your small circle of close friends.

Marketing campaign looking all the same? Maybe, until someone decides to use a dirty water vending machine... for good!

Try reading a book... on a topic you've never been interested in.

Try volunteering, and you may discover that making an impact can be more fulfilling than making money.

Don't act like people expect you to, try acting like if no one would ever know.

Be creative, challenge your life and let your life surprise you back :)

With the same skills but a different mindset, last month I was able to find 14 security vulnerabilities in 9 WordPress plugins, affecting a total of more than 100.000 sites.

There are countless ways to hack life (and code!)... what's yours?