Ethical hacker gets paid for cracking IT systems


AJ Dumanhug, a 26-year-old ethical hacker and cybersecurity expert who co-founded Secuna, makes a living out of cracking the IT systems of companies, organizations, and government agencies with the purpose of making them more secure and protected.

His interest in IT began a decade ago while playing online games. “From there, it grew the desire to understand the best way to use technology,” he says in an interview via email.

Dumanhug decided to become an ethical hacker after learning that companies are willing to provide cash rewards to people who responsibly disclose a security flaw they find in the company’s product. 

“Ethical hackers can counter cybercriminal attacks, and risks from these web threat attempts can be mitigated by doing deep dives into how these digital terrorists think, plan and operate. Given these cybercriminals’ considerable skills and the support from their own network, their attacks can be countered by an equally knowledgeable and skilled community—but this time, one that is on the side of the digital angels,” he says.

In 2017, he helped establish a company composed of trusted international cybersecurity professionals called white hat hackers or simply ethical hackers to identify potential security flaws.

“Having a large network of ethical hackers is a huge advantage for Secuna in helping companies, organizations, and even the government secure their digital assets. As hackers, they are also privy to cybercriminals’ ways, mindsets, and methods, enabling them to stay one step ahead,” says Dumanhug.

IT degrees

Dumanhug, who obtained Bachelor of Science Information Technology degree from STI College, studied short courses at the University of the Philippines, and took Professional Science Master in Cybersecurity at Holy Angel University, is now the chief executive at Secuna—a Philippines-based cybersecurity firm that offers penetration testing services.

“Secuna is my first professional job, but I also worked as a full-time consultant for almost three years for the University of the Philippines System under UP Information Technology Development Center. I am a cybersecurity mentor for startups through…

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