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Can a web developer become a hacker

April 20, 2022

can a web developer become a hacker

Can a web developer become a hacker? The two skills certainly seem similar. Whether you’re already a web developer interested in expanding your skill set, or you’re an aspiring developer curious about where this career might lead, we’ve got answers for you.

Can A Web Developer Become A Hacker?

Yes, a web developer can become a hacker. But web development is not the same thing as hacking, and the two skill sets are not as related as they seem. Making the transition from web development to ethical hacking requires training and education. Your experience as a web developer will probably make that an easier transition.

web developer working on code

What Is Web Development?

Many people assume that web development, coding, programming, and hacking are all different words for essentially the same thing. While they’re all somewhat related, these really are different things. Web development involves coding, but coding doesn’t always mean web development.

A Web Developer Does Use Code

While not all coding is web development, a web develop does need to know how to code. Web develops use HTML, CSS, JavaScript, and more to design and create websites. They do more than just build and maintain the site, as they’re responsible for all the technical aspects of the website. That means that a web developer needs to know more than just how to code.

Web Developers And Networks

Web developers are usually responsible for all of the technical aspects of the websites they create. That includes things like the capacity and speed of the website. This requires some knowledge of the servers and networks being used by the website.

What A Web Developer Does

A web developer writes the code for the website. They’ll work with their clients to determine their needs, and from there they’ll create a website suited to what the client wants. While some web developers may also create the content that will fill the site, many of them simply write the code and incorporate content created by copy writers and artists.

Often, web developers will then monitor the traffic on a website, and handle the ongoing maintenance of the website. Others will turn those responsibilities over to someone else once the website is up and running.

Back-end Web Developer

Back-end web developers specialize in the technical side of web development. They write the code for the website, and that’s about it. Once the website is functioning as needed, they’ll establish the procedures that allow others to add new pages to the website, and then they’re done.

front end web developer checking phone

Front-end Web Developers

Front-end web developers focus more on the finished product. They design the layout of the site and integrate graphics and applications. For example, they would be responsible for including a checkout tool on a retail website.

Front-end web developers will be doing just as much coding as the back-end developers, but they are building on what the back-end developers have already done.

Generalized Web Developers

A lot of web developers do both the front-end and back-end jobs. Freelance web developers who travel, tend to be generalized developers who will handle all of the work of building the website. The advantage of this is that there’s more continuity between the back-end and front-end work on the website.

This can make the whole process of web design a lot smoother, since you won’t have two different developers working on the same project.

How Much Code Do Web Developers Learn?

A web developer generally learns several different programming languages. HTML, CSS, Java, and more are all commonly used in web development. While many web developers stick to just one, those who master several different programming languages will be able to work with more clients, and can have higher career earnings in the long run.

hacker stereotype

What Is A Hacker?

Strictly speaking, a hacker is someone who uses computer programming or technical skills to overcome a challenge or a problem. That can describe a lot of people, from government agents to criminals to anyone who redesigned their MySpace page in the early 2000s. That last one may be playing a bit fast and loose with the definition, but you get the point.

Hacker is sort of a catch all term that really has a much broader definition than most people realize. Not all hackers are criminals. In fact, by definition, most hackers are not criminals.

You could even say that, technically, all web developers and coders are already hackers, since they use their computer programming skills to overcome challenges. But they probably wouldn’t describe themselves that way.

Typically, when people use the word “hacker,” they’re referring specifically to criminal activity and security hackers.

Security Hackers

Security hackers are hackers who specifically focus on exploring weaknesses in computer networks and breaching cyber defenses. Before you assume this makes them all criminals, there are plenty of security hackers employed specifically to identify those weaknesses, and eliminate them to protect against criminal activity.

There are also, of course, security hackers employed by government intelligence agencies and even the military to carry out operations for national defense. Whether or not these hackers are the bad guys will depend on which government is employing them, and where you live.

In addition, many security hackers are essentially hobbyists. They explore weaknesses in networks for fun, and they may even try to breach cyber defenses from time to time, but they’re mostly interested in knowing whether or not they can do it. These hackers might be an annoyance to some, but they’re typically harmless.

hacker holding computer

“Black hat” Hackers

Hackers who breach cyber defenses for criminal purposes are often called black hat hackers. The name comes from old Western movies, where the villains often wore black hats, while the heroes wore a white hat.

These hackers intentionally breach cyber security for a variety of criminal purposes. Theft is a common one, although corporate espionage is also a common (and lucrative) criminal enterprise. Black hat hackers are the ones we associate with things like identity theft, security breaches in financial institutions and retail chains, and other cyber crimes.

When most people think of hackers, what they’re really thinking of are black hat hackers. The assumption is that most hackers are engaged in criminal activity. This really isn’t true, but it’s the public perception.

“Grey Hat” Hackers

If black hat hackers are the criminals, white hat hackers would naturally be the hackers who work to protect the public from black hat hackers. But there is a middle category of gray hat hackers.

Gray hat hackers, as the name suggests, occupy a moral gray area in the middle. They don’t usually engage in outright criminal activity, but they will flirt with the line. One common example of gray hat hacking are freelancers who will intentionally breach a company’s cyber security as a demonstration of their vulnerability. Then they’ll offer their services to strengthen the company’s cyber defenses.

ethical hacker and web developer

What Is An Ethical Hacker?

White hat hackers, more properly called ethical hackers, probably constitute the majority of the hackers in the world. Ethical hackers are typically employed as consultants, to improve cyber security or to assist law enforcement.

The irony is that ethical hackers are typically using the exact same skills, in the same ways, as black hat hackers. But instead of using them to attack people, to steal, or commit fraud, they use them to identify vulnerabilities and fix them. Or, they use them to find criminal hackers and expose them.

Ethical hackers are using their computer and technical skills to protect against black hat hackers. Essentially, they are security experts who act like malicious criminals to find, expose, and fix weak spots in cyber defenses. Usually, when some asks “can a web developer become a hacker?” What they really mean is, can they become an ethical hacker.

Can A Web Developer Be An Ethical Hacker?

There’s no reason why a web developer couldn’t also be an ethical hacker. While the skills you learn as a web developer may not be sufficient to be an ethical hacker, they’ll probably help. To be an ethical hacker you’ll need to learn a lot of the same programming languages that web developers use, and you’ll probably need some familiarity with web design.

How Are Web Developers And Ethical Hackers Different?

An ethical hacker is a security expert who’s focused on finding and fixing weaknesses in cyber defenses. Web developers aren’t required to be security experts. Although, having security expertise as a web developer is probably a nice selling point.

Most web developers probably develop a working knowledge of cyber security even if they don’t set out to learn it. That doesn’t make them experts, of course, and for a web developer to start a new career as an ethical hacker they’ll probably need to take some training courses on cyber security.

Is A Hacker A Programmer?

Yes, all hackers, and web developers too, are programmers. A programmer is someone who uses programming language to write code for web and computer applications. So, “programmer” is a very broad term that refers to a wide variety of work.

“Programmer” would also include people who create smartphone apps, video games, and anything else that requires the use of a programming language. That’s why we use more specific terms like web developer and hacker.

One reason why the answer to “can a web developer become a hacker” is yes, is that they’re both programmers.

What Jobs Can An Ethical Hacker Get?

Ethical hackers can get a lot of different jobs, all related to cyber security. Many of them are hired as security consultants. Working as consultants, they’re often asked to attempt to penetrate an organizations cyber defenses.

In this role, they act as malicious hackers, attacking at an unexpected time and doing their very best to penetrate the defenses. Of course, once they do, they don’t actually steal anything or cause any damage. They report back to the company that hired them how they were able to break the cyber defenses and then offer suggestions to improve those defenses.

They may also be asked to simply review a company’s cyber security and identify any potential weaknesses without attempting to crack them. Sometimes these hackers are called security consultants, other times they might be referred to as a vulnerability assessor, or something similar.

Security Engineer

Another common job for ethical hackers is designing cyber security systems. Since they have the technical skills to overcome cyber defenses, they’re often considered the best people to have designing your cyber security. In this role they might be employed by major corporations, financial institutions, and even government offices.

ethical hacker web developer working at job

Who Hires Ethical Hackers?

Almost any organization that needs cyber security will hire ethical hackers. Financial institutions hire them to develop their cyber security, and then to test it. Major corporations do the same. Law enforcement will often them to help find black hat hackers and bring them to justice.

Government institutions, including the military, will hire ethical hackers both to help protect the nation from external hacking and to carry out their own hacking operations. Hacking skills are high demand.

Does Being A Web Developer Make You A Better Hacker?

Being a web developer gives you a lot of in-depth knowledge about the code that goes into creating websites. That knowledge can be extremely useful as an ethical hacker. It can help you spot potential security weaknesses more easily.

It also helps because you’ll probably have to learn additional programming languages, and that will benefit your hacking ability. Knowing more programming languages makes you a more versatile hacker.

In general, having a lot of familiarity with web development gives you in-depth knowledge of websites and the code behind them, and that can only be a good thing when you’re hacking. A lot of people asking “can a web develop become a hacker” are wondering if it will make them a better web developer. The answer is yes.

Does Being A Hacker Make You A Better Web Developer?

So, if being a web developer makes you a better hacker, is the reverse true? Do hackers make better web developers? In general, yes. If you’re a hacker, you already have an eye for good cyber security, and you’ll probably create websites that are more secure than a web develop who isn’t a hacker.

Some clients may not be concerned about security, but as a hacker who’s also a web developer, you can help them to understand the importance of good cyber security. Many clients will be thrilled to hire a web developer who can make sure that their website is secure.

Is A Web Developer The Same As A Web Designer?

No, a web developer is not the same as a web designer. The two jobs can definitely overlap, but they’re very different.

A web designer is the person who comes up with the visual design for the website. They envision the layout of the webpages, the colors, and more. Essentially, they’re responsible for determining what the user interface should look like.

The web developer is the one who actually makes all of that happen. They write the code which creates the website and any applications that will run on it. This doesn’t mean that a web developer will not also be a web designer, but they are often two separate jobs.

Should I Become A Hacker?

By now we’ve answered can a web developer become a hacker- yes, they can. The next question for a lot of people is “should I?” That depends on a lot of things. Most web developers will need some additional training to be an ethical hacker.

That’s because it’s unlikely a web developer already has the security expertise that’s needed in ethical hacking. You’ll have to pay for the training. Plus, if you like web developing, you may not be enjoy being an ethical hacker.

That said, learning to hack can make you a better web developer, and it gives you one more marketable skill. Plus, ethical hackers can often earn more money as security consultants than they could as a web developer. So, the answer just depends on your goals and your job satisfaction.

Should I Become A Web Developer?

If you’re already a hacker, maybe you’re considering becoming a web developer. Just like a developer who wants to be a hacker, you’ll probably need to learn some programming languages you aren’t currently familiar with.

Becoming a web developer is going to make you a better hacker. You learn a lot about the technical aspects of websites, and that can give you a lot of insight into cyber security that you didn’t have before. Plus, it will open up new career opportunities for you.


So, can a web developer become a hacker? Yes! It really just requires a bit more training to get them familiarized with cyber security, and sometimes with new programming languages. There’s nothing that would prevent a web developer from becoming a hacker.

In fact, becoming a hacker will probably make you a better web developer, because you’ll be able to design more secure websites. This will be especially important if you’re building retail sites that will use credit card information.

Becoming a hacker also opens up more career opportunities for you. While it might require some additional training, there’s no real downside when a web developer decides to become a hacker.