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It all started as a game. A boy of just 13 years illegally entered the database of the municipality of Bergen, a Norwegian city famous for the fjords, stealing and publishing all the personal data of his 35,000 citizens.

From passwords to school reports. Such an impressive result that Sbanken, a local banking institution, offered him a summer job and a computer course!!!

Christoffer Hernæs, the bank’s IT director, welcomed the young hacker with great enthusiasm: “We have a great need to embrace and cultivate talents. Companies should be deeply grateful to those who test computer systems”. Statements of esteem that arrived immediately after the proposal for a summer job “that the boy has already accepted”, says his father: he will be the company’s IT consultant during the holidays. Then follow courses of strengthening for programming and computer security. 

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The story really hadn’t started very well… After entering the computer systems of the municipality of Bergen, the police decided to seize the 13-year-old’s computer and open an inquiry into the reasons for the gesture, to see if he had acted on someone’s behalf, perhaps for a fee. The Norwegian town hall was also punished: in addition to the damage caused by the intrusion in the computer systems, a heavy fine arrived from the government. The motivation? Poor protection of citizens’ sensitive data. 

This is not the first time a hacker has been hired by the bank. A similar incident occurred in 2003. The protagonist was Thomas Tjøstheim, a computer science student at the time, who detected a serious vulnerability in the home banking login system. It was a “hole” that allowed any attacker to get into Sbanken’s online accounts. A discovery that allowed Thomas to receive a job offer as “responsible for login solutions and computer signatures” in the same bank that he himself had hacked.

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