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June 2003

How to learn IT security in your spare time

Two thoughts come to mind when I think of boredom: "The devil finds work for idle hands," and "war consists of days of excruciating boredom mixed with seconds of pure horror." Everyone from Fortune 500s to basement-dwelling malcontents roam the digital highways, and some seek to harm poorly guarded networks. Don't get the connection? Don't worry, stay with me. Apply these seemingly incongruous ideas to savvy software people fighting workplace boredom, and you'll quickly see how periodic downtime can supply the devil with ample idle hands. I, for one, experience this from time to time in the lulls that periodically creep into my workdays. In my early days on a Unix network (way back in the 1980s), I used those lulls scuttling from machine to machine, searching for logons, what was in that/etc/passwd file and learning how to write directly to another guy's screen. All of this experimentation and self-taught knowledge didn't make me an expert, just an enthusiast. Even if it did make me somewhat of an expert, I didn't have much ...

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