Modern field guide to security and privacy

Podcast: Life as a teenage hacker

Paul Vann, the 14-year-old chief executive officer of VannTechCyber, and his father, Raytheon's Paul Vann, join this episode of The Cybersecurity Podcast. 

Ann Hermes/Staff
Paul Vann, a speaker at cybersecurity conferences across the country, uses his lab in his bedroom in Virginia to work on hacking tools. He’s also trying o create an "in-visibility cloak" like the one in the "Harry Potter."

Paul Vann is a chief executive officer and security researcher. He's also 14 years old. 

That has its challenges. "It's harder to get taken seriously as a kid," he said on the latest episode of The Cybersecurity Podcast

The young leader of new cybersecurity company VannTechCyber, who was originally featured in Passcode's 15 under 15 rising stars of cybersecurity project, says other professionals often don't initially think his work is "as accurate or as credible" because he hasn't gone to college or even finished high school – and while that does intimidate him sometimes, he relies on the strength of his research to win them over.

"As long as I can prove that what I'm doing is credible, I can be taken seriously in most situations," he tells The Cybersecurity Podcast cohosts, New America's Peter W. Singer and Passcode's Sara Sorcher. 

On this episode, sponsored by HackerOne, Paul discusses what it's like to be a kid hacker, learn about ethics, and build a company at such a young age. His father, the technical director of international programs at Raytheon Foreground Security also named Paul Vann, chats about how to encourage kids' interest in cybersecurity and still make sure they're being safe online. 

Listen to this episode on iTunes | Soundcloud | Stitcher 

You've read  of  free articles. Subscribe to continue.

Dear Reader,

About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

If you were to come up with a punchline to a joke about the Monitor, that would probably be it. We’re seen as being global, fair, insightful, and perhaps a bit too earnest. We’re the bran muffin of journalism.

But you know what? We change lives. And I’m going to argue that we change lives precisely because we force open that too-small box that most human beings think they live in.

The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

We have a mission beyond circulation, we want to bridge divides. We’re about kicking down the door of thought everywhere and saying, “You are bigger and more capable than you realize. And we can prove it.”

If you’re looking for bran muffin journalism, you can subscribe to the Monitor for $15. You’ll get the Monitor Weekly magazine, the Monitor Daily email, and unlimited access to CSMonitor.com.