Learning-Hacking-Make-Better-ProgramerYou don’t need to have your finger directly on the pulse to know that the world’s overall opinion of hackers is pretty low. Between movie portrayals of basement-dwelling masterminds shutting down entire sections of the country with a few well-placed keystrokes, and current-event news agencies constantly warning us of the growing threat posed by cybercriminals, it’s easy to starting thinking of hackers as villains. However, while there is certainly a plethora of black-hat hackers to be found prowling the net, hacking, as a skill, is not inherently wrong. In fact, being able to hack is actually quite a boon in various industries—specifically, programming. Here are five reasons that knowing how to hack will make you a better programmer.

1. Hackers understand systems inside and out

Did you ever have to dissect a frog back in Biology 101 in high school? It may not have been a very pleasant experience, but it probably taught you one valuable truth: If you want to know how something works, sometimes you have to take it apart. A hacker who is adept at breaking into or seizing control of systems may find that they have a unique perspective of the intricacies involved in that system’s operation, thus providing them with insight into how to repair that system should problems arrive. At the same time, many hackers tend to favor a single programming language, such as Python, Java, C, or any number of other possibilities. In order to be able to hack with that language, they need more than a cursory knowledge of its capabilities; they need to be able to use it as an extension of their own selves. Thus, one who is able to learn Python programming for the purpose of hacking, will be able to use that knowledge to excel in any other programming situation.

2. Hackers know security

Speaking of knowing a system inside and out, there’s no better way to identify potential network security holes than by hiring a hacker to find them. Hackers generally understand how to find the weaknesses that others don’t consider. Have you ever heard the term “fight fire with fire?” Well, when it comes to cybersecurity, the best way to be protected from unauthorized incursion is to “fight hacking with hacking.” If you learn hacking, you’ll be able to better protect your systems from your less-than scrupulous peers.

3. Hackers are creative and innovative

One thing that Hollywood generally gets right about hackers is that they’re usually very creative. They have to be able to look at new and unique problems and obstacles, and to create innovative solutions. These skills would come in handy in any situation, but they are especially useful in programming, where one’s inner knowledge of a system combines with an ability to think outside of the box, to create an unmatched problem-solving ability.

4. Hackers know how to manage time

A large percentage of hackers do all of their hacking during their free-time. Again, some of these individuals may be using that time for nefarious purposes, but many others are simply trying to better themselves by learning a useful skill. And while the ability to hack is certainly useful in-and-of itself, a peripheral skill that often comes tied to it is the ability to manage time well. When hackers have to balance other considerations (work, family, etc.) in addition to their hacking, then they learn how to make the most of their available hours and minutes. Those who become programmers take that skill with them, becoming more efficient in the process.

5. Hackers are driven

Our society tends to value the self-made man, and for good reason. The ability to improve oneself shows drive, determination, and above all, a will to succeed. Not coincidentally, these are also skills that are often developed by hackers. Hackers generally learn through rigorous self-teaching, and even those who are trained by mentors often have to demonstrate initiative before anyone will agree to teach them. This drive translates over well into a programming situation.

So, if you want to become a better programmer, you can start by becoming a better hacker. Just don’t get so involved in the process that you lose sight of your laudable programming goals; you don’t want to end up as a basement dwelling mastermind—because who’d want to hire one of those?