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5 things NOT to do if you’re a hacker

Okay, so you've decided to become a hacker. You're sat in front of a Hollywood-style screen of fast-moving green text. What now? Well actually, perhaps it's worth considering what not to do next.

Real-life hacking isn't like the movies, and plenty of cyber criminals have left themselves open to detection and identification by making simple errors. Here are five cautionary tales on things not to do if you're thinking of pursuing a new career as a hacker...


1. Blog about your hack and include a photo
Remember MySpace? Samy Kamkar does. In 2005, when the social network was at the peak of its popularity, he launched a relatively harmless worm that posted the text "but most of all, Samy is my hero" to users' profiles. The virus affected more than a million accounts within 20 hours. Kamkar blogged about his success, but his site included a photo of him with his number plate, meaning he could be tracked down and brought to justice. He was given a three-year internet ban, 90 days' community service and a fine of up to $20,000 (£15,000).


2. Use your hacker email address to apply for jobs
When a hacker broke into the US Department of Defense in 2006 and caused damages costing more than $35,000 (£26,000), the authorities investigating the crime had few clues to go on other than his email address: wolfenstein_ingrid@yahoo.com. Luckily, their job was made easier when Romanian business student Eduard Lucian Mandru used the same address on his CV, which he posted to job websites in 2009. He was promptly arrested, facing a maximum sentence of 12 years behind bars.


3. Email yourself from Kelly Osbourne's account
Back in 2010, a hacker broke into Kelly Osbourne's email account - something that the singer didn't seem too happy about on Twitter. Unfortunately for the cyber criminal, he decided that reading the celebrity's private messages on her own account wasn't good enough and forwarded them to his own address. When she discovered the sent messages, she knew exactly who he was and was able to forward the details to the police.


4. Make a spelling mistake when robbing a bank
More recently, at the beginning of 2016, hackers carried out a cyber heist on Bangladesh's central bank. They made off with about £61 million, but the figure could have been higher if it wasn't for a spelling mistake on a transfer request for another £15 million. The cyber criminals misspelt the word "foundation" as "fandation" in the name of a Sri Lankan non-profit organisation, prompting Deutsche Bank to check with the Bangladeshi bank, which stopped the transaction and cut the total stolen by about a third.


5. Do anything you see hackers do in films
Films and television programmes are notoriously bad at depicting computer coding and hacking - probably because somebody sitting at a keyboard typing for hours isn't that exciting to watch. From James Bond's Q to House of Cards hacker Gavin Orsay, there have been some terribly dramatic scenes of fast typing and oddly-specific dialogue boxes over the years. If you're going to hack like these guys, perhaps it's best that you stick to an online silver-screen hacking simulator instead - at least you won't do any harm that way.

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