Most of the attendees at the first annual Chaos Communication Camp in Altlandsberg, Germany, were young, skilful and in high demand at corporate information technology departments.
The event, which attracted some of the most talented European and North American hackers, was one of the largest hacker gatherings in Europe this year.
Tobias, a programmer and software developer from Berlin who watched the camp’s Linux Death Match hacking competition, said he was impressed by the level of expertise. “All these people sitting here in front of these machines will never have a problem finding a job,” he said. “Everyone around here knows how useful it is to find vulnerabilities, and most of these people don’t destroy systems, don’t crack systems — they just look at them.”
David Del Torto, director of technology for security services at Deloitte & Touche in San Francisco, agreed. He noted that hackers like himself are working at the top five auditing and accounting firms.
Del Torto presented hacker career workshops with titles such as “Take This Job and Ping It/Hacking The Corporate Ladder For Fun & Profit.”
“As long as you are not hacking the companies you are working for and destroying your reputation, you are going to have no problem getting jobs,” he said.
Among the tips he offered hackers seeking corporate jobs: write your own job description, volunteer for a project in your area of expertise, network with people, start your own company or join another start-up. He also advised the crowd to build tools they would use, license technology when appropriate and solve problems with free software or generate it.
“When building reputation capital, it’s pretty important to learn to think like the boss,” he said.
Del Torto is also a member of Cypherpunks, a San Francisco-based hacking organization that produces what he described as “no-compromise” security technology. Del Torto had advice for his Fortune 1,000 brethren, too. Asked if young hackers, who may not be partial to suits and ties, are discriminated against, Del Torto recalled that Dan Farmer, author of the widely used Satan network scanning tool, was turned down by an employer who found his appearance unsettling. Del Torto urged IT managers to focus on the reputation of the individual. IT managers interviewing young people who “act differently should remember when they were young,” he said.
Del Torto said that in the relatively small community of IT security professionals, people are preceded by reputations. He said he knows talented programmers whom he won’t hire or recommend for jobs elsewhere because they don’t act responsibly.