A Teen Taught Herself to Hack, Then She Escaped a Cult

Shyama Rose says hacking is her 'reason for carrying on'
By Michael Harthorne,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 29, 2016 4:48 PM CDT
Updated Jul 31, 2016 6:32 AM CDT
A Teen Taught Herself to Hack, Then She Escaped a Cult
Shyama Rose taught herself to hack at age 14. Then she used it to escape a cult.   (Twitter)

"There’s nothing that pisses me off more than someone doing something bad to someone who can’t protect themselves," Shyama Rose says. "That obviously stems from seeing children harmed." Glamour has a fascinating profile on Rose, a woman who taught herself to hack, then used that skill to escape a cult. Rose moved into a Texas compound belonging to the Society of Divine Love with her mother and brother when she was 11 years old. At 12, their leader, Swami Prakashanand Saraswati, started sexually abusing her, she says. Rose became his personal servant. "It was terrifying," she says. Then, a lifeline. In 1994, 14-year-old Rose received a Macintosh as a gift.

She stumbled upon the internet when she tried plugging her new computer into a phone jack. From there she experimented, taught herself binary, and discovered hacking. "I realized there was opportunity outside my shitty environment and that the whole world wasn't a pile of pain," she says. Rose's self-taught hacking skills got her into a college's computer science program and then into jobs with Microsoft, Live Nation, and NASDAQ, helping those companies find their own vulnerabilities. Rose calls hacking her "reason for carrying on." “I love the sexiness and fun that hacking brings me,” she says. Read the full story, including how Rose sought to bring her former abuser to justice, here. (Read more hacking stories.)

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