Ethical hacker Daniel Winson is showing Wagga TAFE students how to secure networks against attack

A Wagga computer hacker, who has digitally broken into some of the world’s biggest companies, is teaching others the tricks of the trade.

BOUNTY HUNTER: Wagga TAFE teacher Daniel Winson is also an "ethical hacker" and teaches his students the tricks of the trade. Picture: Laura Hardwick.

BOUNTY HUNTER: Wagga TAFE teacher Daniel Winson is also an "ethical hacker" and teaches his students the tricks of the trade. Picture: Laura Hardwick.

Far from being a Hollywood-villain, TAFE teacher Daniel Winson is actually hacking for all the right reasons.

Mr Winson is a cyber-security specialist and when he’s not teaching network security at Wagga TAFE, he spends his free time trying to claim “bug bounties”. 

“It’s what we call ethical hacking,” Mr Winson said.

“Companies and organisations pay people to hack their networks, the idea being it’s better for the good guys to find the problems before the bad guys do so they can make their systems more resilient.”

Digital bounty hunting is fast becoming one of the main ways the world’s biggest companies protect themselves online. Facebook has reportedly paid more than $US4 million in the past five years to bounty hunters and Microsoft has paid up to $US100,000 for identifying bugs.

There are strict rules around what “security researchers” like Mr Winson can reveal about the bugs they’ve found in corporate networks, but he said he’s hacked computer security companies and a well-known car manufacturer.

“I found a Tesla Motors router in Austria that was vulnerable to attack,” Mr Winson said. 

“I didn’t even have to hack into the network, I just told them someone could sit and hammer away at it with a ‘brute force’ attack and I got paid $200 for it.”

While it took a week for his computer to do all the hard work, Mr Winson spent only an hour or so at the keyboard. His biggest paying bug, found at a company that sells computer security, earned him $2000 for just four hours’ work.

Mr Winson uses his hacking skills for good in the classroom, showing the next generation of IT professionals how to secure networks against attack. 

“Last year the Australian Government put on a cyber-security challenge and my students finished in the top 40,” he said. 

“There was a chatroom going and all these university students were complaining about how Wagga TAFE students were beating them, it was pretty satisfying.”

SECURITY: Apple CEO Tim Cook. The iPhone-maker is the latest company to post a "bug bounty" in the hopes of finding security holes before the bad guys do.

SECURITY: Apple CEO Tim Cook. The iPhone-maker is the latest company to post a "bug bounty" in the hopes of finding security holes before the bad guys do.

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