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A recent article published by Forbes Magazine gives a brief outline of "_The World's Richest Hackers_" telling the "_once was_" stories of these technology pioneers. Along with the eight individuals profiled, the article first introduces you to WhatsApp founder Jan Koum briefly discussing how his "_net worth suddenly jumped to $6.8 billion last month when Facebook acquired his startup._"
We are first illuminated by Koum, who, as the article states, started his technology life "as a teenage immigrant from Ukraine_" living in Mountain View, California. The article indicates that he would use a "_wardialer_" – an electronic device that "_cycles through phone numbers, dialing them on a modem to find open connections_"—to search and "_explore faraway networks_" all while sitting in his bedroom. Koum was quoted in the article to say, "_The Internet was so insecure back then. Servers on the Internet's fringes with root account and no passwords…The challenging part was finding these systems where you have to learn your way around. There were no manuals."
The article states that once while on an exploration, Koum "found his way onto the network of the computer graphics giant Silicon Graphics_" but never with malicious intent. Koum was again quoted in the article to say,"_At some point, I connected to the server. And that's as much as I'm going to say._" Now as this article exhibits, the 38-year-old enjoys his success and his ranking as the "_two-hundred-and-second richest person on the planet_", while we are drawn in with curiosity about those other success stories who shared his craving for "_the wilder side of the hacker frontier."
We read on in the article about others, including Microsoft founder Bill Gates and co-founder Paul Allen, Apple's Steve Jobs, and Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg and see that all had beginnings that took a course similar to Koum's. This crowd joined the hacking ranks early in life by gaining "_unauthorized access to an administrator account_" at a significant computing corporation, spending time sifting through dumpsters for "_printouts of source code_, "and "_breaking into the network_" of an organization that one of these individuals "_hoped would hire him to show the company its security vulnerabilities_, "according to Forbes.
Hanni Fakhoury, an attorney with the Electronic Frontier Foundation, was quoted in the article to say, "_Zuckerberg, Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, Wozniak, Paul Allen, all had told stories or written in autobiographies about how when they were younger, they engaged in legally questionable activities, and how they used those mostly harmless experiences to create the biggest tech companies in the world._" As we read deeper into this article and the profiles of the eight individuals featured, we will discover an exciting history of technology – it is past, present, and possible future – and the risk, success, and ideas that motivate others to follow their paths.
Written by Bryon Turcotte / March 14, 2014