At the young age of seven, Ian Smith knew exactly what he wanted to be when he grew up. While other seven year olds wanted to be astronauts or singers, Ian wanted to be hacker, leading him to his current occupation. “It was the movie The Italian Job.” he said, “there were hackers in it and I saw them and said to myself that’s what I want to be.”
Ian didn’t discover his aptitude toward his hobby until he was about ten. In his freshman year, after taking a semester of intro to computer science, he was able to skip over Java and go right to AP Computer Science, receiving a 5 on the AP exam with ease. His ability goes far beyond that of the average high schooler, allowing him to work with some of the top programmers in the world. To put it frankly, Ian is the best coder and programmer school has ever seen.
Last year, Ian traveled to Las Vegas to attend Def Con, is one of the world’s largest hacker conventions. He is also very active in Internet Relay Chats. These chat rooms are the main way that hackers across the globe communicate with each other. He is even an administrator for one of the forums. Currently, he is working as a security researcher for various companies. Through the website Bugcrowd.com, Ian gets assigned a customer and then “tests their network to see if they can be hacked”. He is also looking forward to an internship this summer with SecurityScorecard, a recent start up that was founded by two former security leaders.
The threat of hacking is escalating in an increasingly technologically dependent world; however, for many, it is a distant menace that seems unlikely to affect them. I found out the hard way just how easy it is for someone with Ian’s skill level to find your password. Being ignorant on the subject, I challenged him to hack into my computer. All he needed was the Wi-Fi that I was on and he was able to find my password along with a lot more of my information. It became clear to me that in the modern world little of our information is safe. He slightly eased my fears when I asked about the safety of a Gmail or Twitter account. “That’s actually a misconception.” Ian said, “The Gmail server is relatively safe, however if you sign up for smaller websites using the same passwords I can get into your Gmail account.” Other security risks are Banking Trojans and Ransomware, two types of malware commonly used by hackers. They can also send emails with fake login requests, which allow anyone who logs into the email to have their password stolen.
It is clear that with such a large threat to the increasingly more technologically dependent world, people like Ian are needed to combat the growing problems of cybersecurity.
–Claire Wilson, Staff Writer