Today’s hacker the_arch_angel
JXoaT: What was your first experience with hacking growing up?
the_arch_angel: I actually didn’t do any hacking growing up. It wasn’t until post-college that I started showing interest in computer security. Growing up, I had seen movies with hackers and thought those characters were cool- like in the Matrix. I never really thought about going into security until one of my last classes in college.
JXoaT: So your first image of a hacker was in the Matrix?
the_arch_angel: I saw the Matrix and thought the image of that lonely guy in his basement, chugging mountain dew all day was kinda cool- but now I realize that’s not what a hacker looks like at all.
JXoaT: When you’re not at the keyboard, where are you?
the_arch_angel: I have a family, so much of my time is spent with them. We just do normal stuff. We go on family walks to the park. My daughter likes to play on the swings, and my son is still too young to walk, so we are holding him. We will go grocery shopping and shop in the bulk food section…(laughs).
Not every hacker fits the image you think. Some of us like to go with our families to Applebees and get a two for twenty.
I also like to play board games.
JXoaT: What are some of your favorite board games?
the_arch_angel: One of my all-time favorite games is Twilight Imperium 4th Edition. It’s an epic space Risk-like game that takes around 12-14 hours to play. So, I will get 5-7 other folks and block out a whole Saturday. Everyone gets here around 8-9 am, and we play until later parts of the evening.
JXoaT: So, what are some perceptions the world gets wrong about hackers?
the_arch_angel: I mean, I can answer the obvious stereotype that we aren’t all evil. But I’m sure that’s said enough. So, I’ll go in sort of an unorthodox direction.
I’d say that people don’t think about us having hobbies or families. I’m a family guy; I have hobbies that have nothing to do with computers, I enjoy manual labor, and hobbies that allow me to work with my hands. Anything from pulling weeds to watering my garden. These things bring me a lot of joy, even though it has nothing to do with computers.
A shared hobby among hackers is playing video games, but I don’t think everyone likes to be on a computer 24/7. Sometimes it’s nice to be outside and touch grass.
We are in the age of the hacker, and I think it’s a bright future for us. The general public’s perception is changing to a more positive spin. The infosec community is very welcoming at large, and it is easier to get more into it (hacking) than ever.
JXoaT: What can you tell me about what you’ve learned as a hacker?
the_arch_angel: How little I know. As a hacker, you’re constantly running into problems and having to solve them. I’m reminded every single day that I’ve got more to learn. The tech industry is always evolving. There are new technologies every day- and I’m like, shoot, it’s another thing for me to learn.
JXoaT: Right, because some people think hackers are wizards.
the_arch_angel: No, I’m just a good learner. There’s an idiom that goes something like, ‘As your island of knowledge grows, the shores of your ignorance grow larger.’ And so yeah, I learn more, but I find that there are three times as many things I don’t understand.
JXoaT: So, I’ve read somewhere that you’re a man of faith. Something people don’t think about is the people from different sects of religion within the hackerspace.
the_arch_angel: Yeah, I am. I am Catholic.
And there is, there’s actually a lot more people than I expected. As I’ve dug deeper into the community, I’ve got to know other hackers on a personal level. I’ve come to find there are a lot of hackers with faith from various backgrounds. That has been cool to uncover. Since most people don’t wear their faith on their sleeve. So, getting to sit down and meet fellow hackers to talk about their religious lives has been really refreshing.
It’s interesting because the more I have these conversations, the more I’m sure the image of a hacker is incomplete.
For more information on the_arch_angel’s h@cktivity- jump over to his profile on HackerOne.